Syphilis Rates Are Skyrocketing In California—But This STD Is Also On The Rise Throughout The U.S.

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen for Women's Health

Cast-iron skillets, knitting, and fedoras aren't the only retro things making a comeback. It's time to welcome back... syphilis!


Yep, syphilis was almost eradicated just two decades ago thanks to antibiotics, but now it's back in business. In California alone, there were 34.3 cases of early syphilis per 100,000 Californians in 2017—a 20 percent increase from 2016—according to new data released by the California Department of Public Health.

In women of childbearing age (15 to 44 years), early syphilis cases increased nearly sevenfold—from less than 250 in 2012 to 1,460 in 2017—and about 15 to 20 percent of women with syphilis were pregnant, per the CDPH.

In the U.S. overall, syphilis rates among women more than doubled between 2012 and 2016, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC also estimates that there were 27,814 cases of reported syphilis in 2016, an 18 percent increase since 2015.