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For Release:  April 17, 2009
Contact:         Casey Cooper
                      918/595-4290

Free HIV and Syphilis Screenings Available April 24

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and the Tulsa Health Department are partnering to offer free HIV and syphilis testing on Friday, April 24, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.  The free screening will be held at the Tulsa Health Department located at 4616 East 15th Street.  For more information call 595-4290.

“We are concerned about the increasing number of cases reported recently for syphilis in Oklahoma and are taking precautions to make people aware of the need to protect their health,” said OSDH Disease Intervention Specialist Supervisor Casey Cooper

Syphilis is a curable bacterial infection that is primarily spread through sexual contact. A person can contract and spread syphilis through oral, anal and vaginal sex or through other intimate contact including kissing (when a syphilis sore is present in the mouth). Often, the primary lesion, called a chancre, develops during the early stages of the disease. However, it may go unnoticed, as it is painless and can be on or in the penis, or inside the vagina, anus or mouth. Usually this sore will go away, with or without treatment, but one can still transmit the disease to others until treated. If left untreated, syphilis can cause damage to major organs, principally the brain and blood vessels. It can also cause serious birth defects. Early detection and treatment prevent further damage syphilis may cause to the body and may also reduce the risk for HIV transmission.  

Approximately 4,050 new sexually transmitted infections occur each year in Oklahoma among youth age 18 and younger. In 2008, 249 cases of syphilis were reported in Oklahoma. Of that number, 15 were reported in teens younger than 18. 

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