Philadelphia—Pharmacists who are filling prescriptions to treat syphilis—which is on the rise—should assume that patients know little about the disease, based on a new survey.

In January, the CDC reported that syphilis cases had risen 80% over the 5 years from 2018 to 2022. The numbers reached more than 200,000 cases in 2022, the last year for which data are available.

A new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center finds , however, that knowledge about syphilis is limited among U.S. adults.

The survey reveals that just more than half of U.S. adults (54%) are aware that a case of syphilis can be permanently cured. About 16% believe that a vaccine is available to prevent the infection, while another 45% are unsure.

In general, according to the new survey on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), many of the respondents were unfamiliar with symptoms and signs of syphilis, although they were generally aware of how to protect themselves against it.

“With the rising number of syphilis cases, knowing the causes, symptoms, and treatment for it assumes added importance,” explained Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania.

Confusion also reigns for other STIs. For example, only one-third of respondents knew that human papillomavirus cannot be permanently cured, and one-third did not know there was an effective vaccine to prevent more than 90% of cases. Monkeypox—now known as mpox, which appeared 2 years ago—can be prevented by vaccine and/or cured, but the majority of those surveyed did not know that.

APPC’s latest Annenberg Science and Public Health Knowledge survey was conducted from April 18 to April 24, 2024. It involved more than 1,500 empaneled U.S. adults about their knowledge of STIs, with more extensive questions about knowledge and treatment of syphilis and HIV.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

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