South Dakota is Number One…


South Dakota has experienced a significant rise in syphilis cases, leading the nation with the highest rate of syphilis infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), South Dakota’s rate reached 84 cases per 100,000 people, more than double that of the state with the second-highest rate. The spike in cases, particularly post-pandemic, reflects a nationwide increase in syphilis infections, with a 9% rise noted in 2022. The state Department of Health’s Angela Cascio emphasized the challenges in controlling the spread, including the asymptomatic nature of the disease and barriers to testing, treatment, and prenatal care. In 2023, half of the congenital syphilis cases were linked to mothers who did not receive prenatal care or received inconsistent care, highlighting the importance of regular testing and prevention measures.

The outbreak has been particularly severe among Native American communities in South Dakota, with about 75% of the state’s cases in 2022 attributed to this group. The counties with the highest numbers include Todd and Oglala Lakota, within the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations. Efforts to address the outbreak include increasing awareness about syphilis, its transmission, symptoms, and treatment, as well as expanding testing and treatment options. The Great Plains Tribal Leaders’ Health Board has been working to reduce the stigma associated with syphilis in Native American communities, stressing that having an STD should not be a source of shame.

South Dakota is Number One…
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