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Public Health Alert

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Syphilis is on the rise in Pima County

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. It is easy to become infected and it is easy to cure with testing and treatment.

In 2014, Pima County experienced a spike in syphilis cases compared to  55 cases reported in 2013.  Most (72%) cases occurred in men less than 40 years of age who report sex with other men.  In this population 1 of 3 report being infected with HIV. In 2015, 111 cases were reported, and cases continue to occur in men who report sex with other men. 

2016 provisional numbers for Pima County are 108 cases

  • 93 Male
    • 76% of men identify as MSM (men who have sex with men)
    • 30% are co-infected with HIV
    • 47% use internet dating sites 
  • 15 females
    • 86% have known risk factors that involve drug/alcohol use
    • 33% used internet dating sites or social media to meet partners
    • 14% had sexual contact with MSM (men who have sex with men)

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Symptoms may include

  • A painless sore that appears inside or near the mouth, genital or anus
  • A rash that appears on the palm of hands, bottom of feet, or on the body between the armpits and upper thighs

Although symptoms may come and go, medical testing and treatment is required to diagnose and cure syphilis. Left untreated, the infection can easily be passed on to others as well lead to permanent severe health effects, including nerve damage and blindness. 

If you are sexually active think about getting tested today if any of the following apply:

  • Experiencing symptoms
  • Being tested for other STIs
  • Are pregnant
  • HIV+ individuals who are sexually active 
  • Anyone engaging in high-risk sexual activity (consider testing every 3-6 months)
    • Unprotected sex
    • Sex with multiple and/or anonymous partners
    • Use of hook-up sites and apps


Information and confidential testing

  • Clinic hours 8 am to 5 pm
  • Monday through Friday
  • Walk-ins welcome

Clinic locations

Theresa Lee Public Health Center

Main Phone: (520) 724-7900
1493 W. Commerce Ct., Tucson, AZ 85746

North Office

Main Phone: (520) 724-2880
3550 N. 1st Ave. Tucson, AZ 85719

East Office

Main Phone: (520) 724-9660
6920 E. Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85710



Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be very serious, get the facts

Syphilis Facts

For more information and frequently asked questions from the Centers for Disease Control

Syphilis FAQs

Additional information for men having sex with men

Syphilis & MSM

Ocular Syphilis Information

Letter to providers

Public health alert regarding syphilis 

Dr. Francisco García, Director, CMO

Fax completed form to (520) 838-7538

Communicable Disease Investigation Report Form

Arizona Department of Health Services website listing of mandated reportable diseases per AAC R9-6-202, 203, 204 and 205

Communicable Diseases reportable to Pima County Health Department

The CDC recommendations for syphilis diagnosis and treatment (including PCN-allergic patients)

CDC STD Treatment Guidelines

CDC recommendations

CDC diagnosis and treatment

Syphilis Power Point Presentation

08 August 2014


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Health Department

3950 S. Country Club Road
Ste. 100
Tucson, AZ 85714

(520) 724-7770

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