FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- In 2012, Cumberland County ranked fourth in North Carolina in a three-year rate of human immunodeficiency virus infection according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The county reported 62 cases of HIV diagnoses in 2012. Of those 62 cases, 13 came from Fort Bragg.
Early syphilis is also on the rise among Soldiers and Family members. Cumberland County reported 32 cases of the disease to the CDC in 2012.
Of the numbers reported to the county this year, Soldiers and Family members stationed at Fort Bragg have contributed to over half of those numbers.
“We usually see zero to three cases of syphilis a year. This year we have seen 17,” said Lashawna Hill, epidemiology technician, Epidemiology and Disease Control Clinic at Fort Bragg.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually spread through sexual contact. The most common symptom, of this easily curable disease in its early stages, are painless open canker sores. Syphilis sores can be found on the genitals, vagina, anus or any other part of the body which comes in contact with an infected area like the mouth or hands.
“Syphilis can be easily cured in its early stages, but if left untreated can kill you,” said Hill.
Hill recommends Soldiers and their Family members test themselves every three to four months free of charge at the EDCC on post.
“It bothers me to know people are going off post to pay for test and treatment when we are here free of charge,” said Hill.
“It is not known why there is a rapid rise in syphilis and HIV among Soldiers and Family members, but protecting yourself during sex or risky behavior is recommended.”
In 2012, North Carolina reported that men who have sex with men were the principal risk factor in 64 percent of total HIV cases. Heterosexual transmission risk was indicated in 32 percent of the cases according to data from the CDC.
Currently, Soldiers and Family members who show up to the EDCC on post without symptoms or discharge will receive a urine test.
“If a person shows symptoms or discharge, then a swab will be used. We just want to make sure we don’t miss anything,” said Hill.
The EDCC on post tests for various sexually transmitted diseases and also provides treatment for animal bites.
Soldiers and Family members can visit the EDCC, Monday through Friday from, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., by walk-in or appointment at Building 1-2739 on Randolph and Hamilton streets (near Iron Mike). They can be reached at 432-9302.
Sgt. Ferdinand Detres, 10TH PCH