Prevalence monitoring in syphilis surveillance: results from a multicenter research program

Sex Transm Dis. 2002 Dec;29(12):769-74. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200212000-00006.


Background: Syphilis seroprevalence data can be used as an independent measure of syphilis trends and to augment syphilis case report data for program planning. The prevalence of reactive syphilis serology in jails, delivery rooms, and drug treatment centers was examined from 1995 to 1999. Prevalence was evaluated by age and gender at each site and compared with county primary and secondary syphilis case rates. Annual prevalence of high titer-reactive serology in jails was compared with primary and secondary syphilis case rates.

Goal: The goal was to examine trends in syphilis seroprevalence and to evaluate the relationship of trends in seroprevalence to reported cases.

Study design: This was a cross-sectional survey.

Results: Prevalence of reactive serology and high titer-reactive serology was lowest among women in delivery rooms (2.9% and 0.4%, respectively) and highest among women in jails (11.1% and 4.1%, respectively), indicating substantial recently treated or active infection among women in jails. Trends in high titer-reactive serology were similar to primary and secondary syphilis case rates.

Conclusion: The prevalence of high titer-reactive serology can provide valuable information about community syphilis morbidity for use in prevention and control programs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Prisons
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Syphilis / blood
  • Syphilis / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis / prevention & control*
  • Texas / epidemiology