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Health Indicator Report of Syphilis Cases - Primary and Secondary

Syphilis is a complex sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium ''Treponema pallidum'' (spp. ''pallidum''). The initial stage (primary syphilis) is characterized by a highly infectious painless open sore, called a chancre, at the site of infection. Chancres occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with the chancre. Sexual transmission can also occur during the secondary stage of syphilis. An infant can acquire syphilis through the placenta if the mother is infected. In later stages of the disease, the bacteria move throughout the body, damaging many organs over time. The open nature of the syphilitic sores makes it easier to acquire HIV, if exposed, or to transmit the virus, if infected. Public health intervention and education measures are crucial in eliminating syphilis.

Primary and Secondary Syphilis by Local Health District, Utah, 2020

Primary and Secondary Syphilis by Local Health District, Utah, 2020

Data Interpretation Issues

Reported primary and secondary syphilis rates are calculated by dividing the number of cases within the population of interest by the total number of persons within that population, then multiplying by 100,000. It should be noted that because of the relatively small number of primary and secondary syphilis infections reported in Utah, rates can be volatile: a small change in the number of cases can noticeably change the rate. This change may look significant, but, statistically, it may not be. Caution is strongly recommended when interpreting small case numbers and rates.


Rate of newly reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis by date of diagnosis per 100,000 persons.


Number of newly reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis by date of diagnosis.


Total Utah population.

Healthy People Objective STD-7:

Reduce sustained domestic transmission of primary and secondary syphilis
U.S. Target: Not applicable, see subobjectives in this category

Other Objectives

Related HP2020 Objectives include:[[br]] [[br]] =====Healthy People Objective STD-7:===== Reduce sustained domestic transmission of primary and secondary syphilis * {{style color:#003366 STD-7.1:}} Reduce domestic transmission of primary and secondary syphilis among females [[br]]'''U.S. Target:''' 1.3 new cases per 100,000 population * {{style color:#003366 STD-7.2:}} Reduce domestic transmission of primary and secondary syphilis among males [[br]]'''U.S. Target:''' 6.7 new cases per 100,000 population[[br]] [[br]] =====Healthy People Objective STD-8:===== Reduce congenital syphilis[[br]] '''U.S. Target:''' 9.6 new cases per 100,000 live births

How Are We Doing?

In 2020, 133 cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis were diagnosed and reported in Utah. Sixty-six of the cases were primary syphilis and Sixty-seven cases were secondary syphilis. Although P&S syphilis rates have fallen for two years now, 18.9% in 2019 and 4.7% in 2020, the general trend of the past 15-years has been one of general increase. In 2020 the rate of P&S syphilis was 925.0% higher than in 2005. During 2020, 83.5% of P&S syphilis cases were diagnosed among residents within the Wasatch Front (Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, and Weber Counties); which is consistent with recent years. Although most cases are reported from Utah's more populous counties, San Juan County Health District had the highest rate of P&S syphilis at 13.1 cases per 100,000 persons. P&S syphilis cases were primarily diagnosed among men during 2020 at a rate of 7.4 cases per 100,000 male persons. Males between the ages of 30-34 years actually experienced the highest rates in 2020 (21.9 cases per 100,000 people). Twelve females were diagnosed with P&S syphilis in 2020. Only 67 females have been reported with P&S syphilis from 2000-2020, meaning that 35.8% of all P&S syphilis cases among females occurred between 2019-2020. During 2020, the P&S syphilis cases were diagnosed primarily among White, non-Hispanic individuals (61.7%) followed by Hispanics (26.3%).

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

P&S syphilis rates in Utah have consistently been lower than rates in the U.S., although Utah has experienced several increases in recent years. The overall 2019* rate for P&S syphilis in the U.S. was 11.9 cases per 100,000 persons, compared to 10.8 cases per 100,000 in 2018. Nationally in 2019*, rates were highest among males aged 25 to 29 (57.6 cases per 100,000 persons). Males had a significantly higher rate than females: 20.1 cases per 100,000 males as compared to 3.9 cases per 100,000 females (CDC. [ ''Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance''], 2019). *At the time of writing, U.S. STD Surveillance Data for 2020 was not yet available.

What Is Being Done?

Persons who test positive for syphilis are confidentially interviewed by a local public health nurse to educate the patient, ensure proper treatment, and to obtain sexual partner information for follow-up. This process potentially prevents those diseases reported from being spread and from the patient becoming reinfected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for testing, treatment, and follow-up are adhered to by the Utah Department of Health and the local health departments. The Utah Department of Health HIV and STD Prevention and Surveillance Program, along with local health departments, currently provides STD presentations upon request to a variety of organizations, agencies, and facilities.

Available Services

The Utah Minor's Consent Law allows adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 years to be tested and treated for an STD without the consent of a parent. Therefore teens are able to utilize clinics available to them confidentially. Many local health districts have STD clinics located at their local health department where adolescents can be tested and treated for STDs at minimal or no cost. Planned Parenthood has locations throughout Utah that also provide STD services at minimal cost. Condoms are also available at these locations. STD presentations are available through the Utah Department of Health upon request. The Utah Department of Health also has educational pamphlets available.
Page Content Updated On 10/20/2021, Published on 11/10/2022
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Wed, 21 February 2024 7:32:51 from Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Thu, 10 Nov 2022 16:55:58 MST