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Syphilis Rates

Summary Indicator Report Data View Options

Primary, Secondary, and Early Latent Syphilis Cases per 100,000 Population by County, New Mexico, 2020

Primary, Secondary, and Early Latent Syphilis Cases per 100,000 Population by Public Health Region, New Mexico, 2020

Why Is This Important?

Syphilis was on the verge of elimination in 2000. Since 2012, the number of cases of primary and secondary syphilis, which is the most infectious, in New Mexico has steadily increased (following national trends), especially in the MSM (males who have sex with males) population. By 2017, 90% of all reported primary and secondary syphilis cases were male. Of those, 85% of cases were MSM. By 2018, the percentage of cases of MSM had decreased to 74% and by 2020, it decreased to 54%. In 2018, the percentage of women comprising syphilis cases was 15%, and by 2020 it increased to 30%, for all age groups. This has significant implications for the transmission from mother to infant. Congenital syphilis has increased from 1 case in 2017 to 26 cases in 2019 and then 43 cases in 2020. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics; however, if left untreated for more than a year, it can eventually lead to paralysis, numbness, dementia, and death.


Syphilis cases reported in the state of New Mexico per 100,000 population. Primary and Secondary syphilis cases only are counted for graph by year comparing US and New Mexico case rates. All other graphs select primary, secondary, and early latent cases.

Data Sources

  • U.S. Data Source: Division of STD Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • New Mexico Population Estimates: University of New Mexico, Geospatial and Population Studies (GPS) Program.
  • Patient Reporting Investigating Surveillance Manager, Infectious Disease Bureau, New Mexico Department of Health

How the Measure is Calculated

Numerator:Number of cases of syphilis reported to the state of New Mexico (and Centers for Disease Control) in New Mexico residents from all health care providers.
Denominator:Total Population

How Are We Doing?

Overall, primary, secondary, and early latent (P,S&EL) syphilis rates have been increasing from 2011 (6.1 per 100,000 population) to 2020 (33.1 per 100,000 population). There was a small dip from 2019 to 2020: from 34.2 cases per 100,000 population to 33.1 per 100,000. This may have been due to a decrease in case reporting due to the Covid-19 pandemic; however, it is conjecture at this point. In 2020, primary, secondary, and early latent (P,S,EL) rates were highest in the American Indian/Alaska Native category, (87.2 per 100,000 population), second highest in the Black/African American race/ethnicity category (43.1 per 100,000), and third highest in the Hispanic category (24.7 per 100,000). The lowest rates were found in the Asian category (12.8 per 100,000) and White category (14.5 per 100,000 population), respectively. By region, the highest P,S, and EL rate for 2020 was found in the Northwest region (82.6 per 100,000), followed by the Metro region (39.5 per 100,000), followed by the Southeast region (27.3 per 100,000), and then the Southwest region (10.6 per 100,000), and the lowest rate was found in the Northeast region (11.3 per 100,000). In conclusion, syphilis rates have increased dramatically since 2011. Racial and ethnic disparities exist with this disease, as well as disparities by region. These issues need to be addressed in the consideration of resource allocation.

What Is Being Done?

Screening for syphilis is recommended for all pregnant women and should be considered for individuals at increased risk, commercial sex workers, persons who exchange sex for drugs, men who have sex with men (MSM), and those in adult correctional facilities. CDC recommends routine screening for syphilis at least annually for MSM and HIV-infected patients who are sexually active (2021 STD Treatment Guidelines, pages 17,18,19).

More Resources

References: (1) Downloaded on 5/02/2022. (2) Downloaded on 5/02/2022.

Indicator Data Last Updated On 05/05/2022, Published on 05/05/2022
Sexually-Transmitted Diseases Program, Infectious Disease Bureau, Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health, 1190 S. Saint Francis Drive Santa Fe, NM 87508-6100, contact Janine Waters, Program Manager, (505) 476-1778,; or for data inquiries contact Angie Bartok, Epidemiologist, (505) 827-2422,