Leon County Sees Growing Syphilis Rate

Apr 2, 2019

The Centers for Disease Control says sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise nationwide. One of the fastest growing rates of syphilis in the country is being seen in Leon County.

Leon County Health Officer Claudia Blackburn (at right) addresses one of the work groups at the syphilis coalition meeting.
Credit Tom Flanigan

More than 60 people from various area health care providers and social welfare agencies were meeting at the county health department facility on Orange Avenue on Tuesday, April 2. Claudia Blackburn, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Leon County, said the local syphilis rate jumped 134% from 2017 to 2018.

“We’re talking about how we can get the word out on social media, particularly dating apps for males to have sex with males because that’s one of the largest populations we’re seeing syphilis in,” she explained.  But Blackburn added the incidence is also up among heterosexual partners and across the board among young people, where more outreach is critical.

“More in-depth education for targeted groups, especially our college-age students, people in that 15-29 age group,” she said.

Another challenge is how to do all this without more money from local, state or federal government sources.