The Spike in Congenital Syphilis

 By John Stonestreet and Maria Baer - Posted at Breakpoint:

This cultural moment considers limiting self-expression immoral, no matter how dangerous the diseases linked to that expression are.

The United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of syphilis cases among newborn babies, according to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can be passed from moms to babies in utero. Last year, more than 3,700 babies tested positive for the disease, a 30% increase in a single year and a tenfold increase in the past 10 years. 

According to the CDC, the situation is “dire.” To reverse the trends, the report proposed, “[a]ddressing missed opportunities for prevention, primarily timely testing and appropriate treatment of syphilis during pregnancy.” Likewise, a Houston-area doctor quoted in an NBC News article about the report said, “It is unbelievable how this could all be prevented if we just had patients get in for screening and treatment.”

During the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s, some acted as if the HIV virus could infect anyone at any moment, as if how it spread was a total mystery. This mentality is even more common today, especially among drug companies promoting medication to treat HIV. The recent biopic Bohemian Rhapsody takes a similar approach to the story of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the rock band Queen. Mercury hid the fact that he had AIDS from all but his closest confidants until the days before his death, despite continuing to have multiple sexual partners and possibly playing an outsized role in the AIDS epidemic. The movie, however, depicts Mercury as a hero of self-expression and a victim of horrible illness. His promiscuity is never morally evaluated and barely mentioned.  

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