HIV is the sexually transmitted disease (STD) most likely to kill a disability insurance, long-term care insurance (LTCI) or other personal protection insurance sale, but other STDs are still out there.

One of the STDs that may be making a comeback is syphilis.

Syphilis infects only about 3.5 out of every 100,000 U.S. adults ages 40 and older.

Seventy-five years ago, syphilis was about as much of a public health threat as HIV is today. The invention of penicillin, and efforts to persuade sexually active adults to wear condoms, helped turn the tide.

Syphilis became a rarity. In 2003, states reported an average of only about 2.5 syphilis cases per 100,000 adults of all ages, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Since then, however, something has been going wrong: The overall syphilis rate has increased to about 5.5 per 100,000 people. For adults ages 40 and older, the incidence rate has increased to 3.6 per 100,000 people in 2013, from about 1.9 per 100,000 10 years earlier.

The overall rate of incidence is about five times higher for men than for women.

At the state level, the incidence rate for adults ages 40 and older ranges from just 0.4 cases per 100,000 older adults in West Virginia to about 7.5 cases per 100,000 in California.

Some of the state-to-state variation may be partly the result of differences in public health screening and reporting programs, but the incidence rate for older adults has increased sharply in most states between 2003 and 2013.

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For now, at least, the odds that any given disability, LTCI or other medically underwritten client will have syphilis are low. But the increase between 2003 and 2013 could be a sign of troubling behavior shifts.

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Any behaviors that help syphilis spread more rapidly could also give diseases like Zika and Ebola a boost, if either of those microbes take hold in the United States.

For a look at a list of the 10 states with the most dramatic increases in older adults’ syphilis incidence rates between 2003 and 2013, along with a chart showing the increases for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, read on. 

South Bend, Indiana

10. Indiana

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 1.51

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.55

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 64%

  

See also: Infectious Diseases: Low Priority, But Risks Lurk

 

Image: WC/Derek Jensen

Virginia

9. Virginia

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 2.47

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.86

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 65%

 

See also: Northwestern Must Pay DI Claim For Herpes

 

Image: TS/Alex Mann

Natchez, Mississippi

8. Mississippi

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 1.03

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.33

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 68%

  

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San Juan Mountains in Colorado

7. Colorado

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 2.56

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.8

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 69%

 

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Utah

6. Utah

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 2.69

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.78

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 71%

 

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St. Paul, Minnesota

5. Minnesota

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 2.6

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.67

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 74%

  

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Image: WC/William Wesen

Wisconsin

4. Wisconsin

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 1.08

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.24

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 78%

 

See also: HHS Hazy on Medicaid LTC Quality Measures

Oregon water fall

3. Oregon

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 6.24

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 1.24

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 80%

  

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Image: TS/John Anderson

Seattle

2. Washington

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 3.5

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.63

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 82%

  

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Iowa wind mill

1. Iowa

Cases per 100,000, 2013: 2.58

Cases per 100,000, 2003: 0.44

Change, in percent, between 2003 and 2013: 83%

 

Image: WC/Allan Zieser  

 

Zika virus does cause birth defects

A tally on a chalkboard

Reported incidence of primary and secondary syphilis, in U.S. adults ages 40 and older

 

 

Incidence per 100,000 residents 

  2013 2003  Change in percent
Alabama 1.69 1.77 -5%
Arizona 2.87 2.33 19%
Arkansas 3.31 1.63 51%
California 7.48 3.21 57%
Colorado 2.56 0.8 69%
Connecticut 0.94 0.54 43%
District of Columbia 23.5 6.28 73%
Florida 4.89 3.08 37%
Georgia 5.93 5 16%
Hawaii 1.05 1.37 -30%
Idaho 0.43 0.52 -21%
Illinois 3.78 2.41 36%
Indiana   1.51 0.55 64%
Iowa   2.58 0.44 83%
Kansas   0.99 0.67 32%
Kentucky   1.76 0.7 60%
Louisiana   4.08 2.29 44%
Maine   0.55 0.76 -38%
Maryland   3.67 3.49 5%
Massachusetts   4.31 1.8 58%
Michigan   1.76 2.11 -20%
Minnesota   2.6 0.67 74%
Mississippi   1.03 0.33 68%
Missouri   2.53 1.28 49%
Nebraska   0.47 0.52 -11%
New Hampshire   1.58 1.31 17%
New Jersey   1.84 1.36 26%
New Mexico   2.48 2.93 -18%
New York   4.8 2.25 53%
North Carolina   2.26 1.48 35%
Ohio   1.84 1.22 34%
Oklahoma   2.71 1.47 46%
Oregon   6.24 1.24 80%
Pennsylvania   2.27 0.9 60%
Rhode Island   4.59 3.2 30%
South Carolina   2.56 1.68 34%
Tennessee   1.36 1.45 -7%
Texas   3.56 2.13 40%
Utah   2.69 0.78 71%
Virginia   2.47 0.86 65%
Washington   3.5 0.63 82%
Wisconsin   1.08 0.24 78%
Source: CDC/Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance

 

See also: CDC reports 683 Zika cases, 1 death in Puerto Rico

 

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