CHARLESTON, S.C. - South Carolina health officials say the number of new syphilis cases in the Charleston area has increased sharply during the past five years.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reports Wednesday that, in 2006, there were only 22 cases of the disease in the early infectious stages. Last year, that number had increased to 82 cases in the area that includes Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
The numbers do not reflect the total cases, only early stages when the disease can be transmitted.
Medical director Dr. Kathryn Arden of the department's Region 7 Public Health Office says the increase is mostly among black men who have had sex with other men. She says it's important people in that group are aware of the risks and get tested.