ASTHO and NCSD Issue Joint Statement on Concerning Rise in Syphilis Cases Across U.S.

April 11, 2023

ARLINGTON, VA—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO) and the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) issued the following statement in light of rising cases of syphilis and congenital syphilis in the United States:

“I am alarmed to see a rise in preventable syphilis and congenital syphilis cases in our nation,” says ASTHO President Anne Zink, MD. “When I was training to be a physician years ago, I did not encounter syphilis cases. I now see them regularly. I encourage all physicians to test for this disease which is easily treatable with penicillin. There are alternative treatment options for those with a penicillin allergy. The public health system and healthcare professionals can work together to counsel, educate, and treat patients appropriately. By including this step in routine appointments, we can save adults and unborn babies from unnecessary pain, harm, or even death.”

“Syphilis—and especially congenital syphilis—is the canary in the coal mine for a devastating and out-of-control epidemic of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S.,” says David C. Harvey, executive director of NCSD. “These are completely preventable infections that too often go unseen, undetected, and untreated. We need an all-of-government response that meets the gravity of this crisis.”

ASTHO, NCSD, and additional partner organizations released a joint call to action letter detailing the issue and recommendations. Read the letter.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.

The National Coalition of STD Directors is a national public health membership organization representing health department STD directors, their support staff, and community-based partners across 50 states, seven large cities, and eight U.S. territories. Our mission is to advance effective STD prevention programs and services across the country. NCSD does this as the voice of our membership. We provide leadership, build capacity, convene partners, and advocate. Go to for more information.