Ocular Syphilis Cases Reported in Northern California and Washington State

Mar 11, 2015
Health, Safety & Testing
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Since December 2014, fourteen cases of Ocular Syphilis infections (syphilis infections in the eye) have been reported on the US West Coast.

There have been no cases among Adult Film Performers, and performers who choose to participate in the Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS), are not considered at high risk due to the detailed bi-weekly health screenings. However, as part of an on-going collaboration between the adult industry and state and local public health departments, we felt it important to help raise awareness.

Only 10% of all syphilis infections impact the eye and develop symptoms such as blurry vision, floaters, a blue tinge in vision, flashing lights, or eye pain. These symptoms are so generic that they are often ignored or mistaken for something like pink eye. Misdiagnosing the infection and leaving it untreated can lead to blindness, and done damage is not easily reversible, but ocular syphilis is easy to detect and cure with the right tests and antibiotics. The recent cases highlight the importance of regular sexual health screenings and provider education.

ocular syphilis

The affected Health Departments, King County, WA Los Angeles, and San Francisco, CA, recommend that people should get tested for syphilis if any of the above-mentioned vision problems occur.

Condoms can provide some protection, but sores caused by Syphilis (chancres) allow the bacteria to also spread through skin to skin contact between body parts that condoms do not cover. These sores can develop anywhere on the body, and usually occur first where the person initially came in contact with the bacteria. While adult film performers aren’t affected, it is always wise to be vigilant, no matter who you are or how you choose to have sex.

Getting tested every three months is the best way to protect your health, especially if you have had ten or more sex partners, any other STI, used poppers or meth, or had condomless anal sex in the past year.

Fewer than half of adults age 18 to 44 have ever been tested for an STI other than HIV. If you don’t want to go to your primary care physician to get tested, click here to find a testing site near you in the US.

Eric Paul Leue is Mr LA Leather 2014, Eagle LA Mr Leather 2014, and Kink’s Director of Sexual Health & Advocacy. You can find him on Twitter.

Reprinted by permission.

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