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Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force Urges Residents To Get Tested As Syphilis Cases Spike

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) — The Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force wants to curve a spike in cases of syphilis in Allegheny County.

"We are offering a syphilis rapid test, which is a fairly new testing technology," says Andrew Ptaschinski, the task force's communications coordinator.

"You are able to get your results for your syphilis test in 10 minutes. Whereas, in previous cases, you would definitely need to get a full blood draw and wait for the lab to process it," Ptaschinski tells KDKA Radio's James Garrity.

In October, the Allegheny County Health Department reported a 90 percent rise in cases of syphilis from 2014 to 2015.

"In this age of social media and anonymous sex online applications, we are concerned that individuals are not protecting themselves and are unaware of the STD status of their partners," said ACHD Director Dr. Karen Hacker.

"You are seeing national rates increase, but the increase in the region, in particular, is startling," says Ptaschinski.

Testing hours and locations can be found on the PATF's website.  Additional resources are available at the Allegheny County Health Department's website.

Ptaschinski says anybody who has unprotected sex should be tested regularly.  The PATF says in 2015, 93 percent of the cases of syphilis were in men, and most were in men who have sex with men.

He adds syphilis is easily treated with penicillin, but if left untreated for several years, it can leave permanent neurological damage.

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