Chicago Department of Public Health Weekly Media Brief, 02/09/2024

February 9, 2024

CDPH Public Information

Chicago Mirrors Nationwide Syphilis Increase

Chicago also has seen a jump in Congenital Syphilis, from 13 cases in 2018 to 46 cases in 2022 -- a 254% increase. This rise has disproportionately impacted Black Chicago, as 86% (75 of 87) of cases in Chicago between 2020-2022, were among Black Chicagoans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week released data showing an alarming increase in syphilis cases nationwide. The CDC reports syphilis rates are at their highest since the 1950s. Across the U.S., there were more than 3,700 cases of congenital syphilis among newborns in 2022 – more than 10 times the number diagnosed in 2012.

CDPH is studying these cases to determine what factors may have led to the increase, and much more research and prevention efforts are needed to adequately curb the resurgence of this epidemic – especially in Black communities, and among young, sexual- and gender-minorities.

Doxycycline Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (Doxy-PEP), an antibiotic which can be taken after sex to prevent bacterial STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, is available at CDPH’s STI Specialty Clinics in Roseland, Austin, and Lakeview. DoxyPEP is currently offered to cisgender men or transgender women aged 18 years or older.

The best way to prevent babies from getting congenital syphilis is to get tested and treated for STIs before birth. If you’re pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about testing and any needed treatment before your baby’s arrival. These services are also offered at CDPH’s STI Specialty Clinics, regardless of one’s insurance status or ability to pay.

Celebrating Black Public Health History

As we celebrate Black History Month, we shine a light on the remarkable contributions of Black Americans and how they have shaped the landscape of public health. Among these trailblazers stand Henrietta Lacks, whose immortal HeLa cells have fueled countless medical breakthroughs, including the development of the polio vaccine and treatments for HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s disease; and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a pioneer who made history by performing one of the first successful open-heart surgeries.

Their contributions are part of a rich tapestry of Black excellence in medicine and public health. This Black History Month, CDPH seeks to honor and amplify the voices of these remarkable individuals, recognizing their enduring legacy and continuing the fight for health equity and justice for all.There's always more to learn - read more about Henrietta Lacks and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams , and check out CDPH’s 2021 report, The State of Health for Blacks in Chicago .

A Winning Game Plan for COVID-19 and Flu

As Super Bowl Sunday approaches, remember to tackle two opponents at once by getting vaccinated against both COVID-19 and the flu! Just like a winning strategy on the field, this dual defense safeguards not only individual health but also the entire team.

These vaccines are a dynamic duo, working together to intercept viruses and prevent their spread. Plus, they're safe to get at the same time – a great defense against respiratory threats.

Huddle up with your healthcare provider and make the winning call for your health and community safety. Score big this season by getting both vaccines and helping to keep everyone in the game! You can visit the CDPH website for information on immunization clinics across the city, or the state of Illinois's website for additional vaccination locations throughout Chicagoland.