There’s only one syphilis medication for pregnant people. And the supply is running out. What can the government do to help?

Key Takeaways

  • Pregnant people and unborn babies are still at risk of not receiving syphilis treatment as shortage of the only safe medication continues.

By Alena Kuzub

The government has a role to play in solving the shortage of the only medication that can treat syphilis in pregnant people, Northeastern University experts say.

“It’s leaving people at the risk of serious illness, affecting birthing outcomes and, certainly, the health of infants as well,” says Brook Baker, a professor who teaches disability discrimination law at Northeastern.

It is especially concerning, Baker says, because syphilis, a bacterial infection transmitted by sexual contact, can be passed from a mother to her child.

In the United States, cases of syphilis are at the highest levels in 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2022, more than 200,000 cases were reported, compared to about 50,000 a decade ago.

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