Department Of Health: April 11-17 Is National STD Awareness Week


The New Mexico Department of Health reminds New Mexico residents about the potential health risks that can come with sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and how talking, testing, and treating protects their health and that of their partners. 

“We know talking about STDs can be difficult for many, but talking openly and honestly with partners before having sex is very important,” said Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins. “It is the best chance to minimize the hard feelings and consequences that can come with sexually transmitted diseases.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to delays in national reporting for STD case numbers, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet published this year’s state rankings. Nonetheless, in New Mexico and nationwide, early syphilis and congenital syphilis is increasingly common.

In 2019, there were 719 cases of early syphilis in the state, compared to 467 cases the year before. Data for 2020 are still being compiled, but are expected to rise. 

Syphilis is an STD that is simple to cure with the right treatment. Without appropriate treatment, however, long-term infection can result in severe medical problems affecting the heart, brain, and other organs. Having syphilis also makes it easier to get HIV.

Most concerning is the rising number of congenital syphilis cases in New Mexico and nationwide. That’s when a mother with sexually transmitted syphilis passes the infection on to her baby during pregnancy. The Department of Health issued a public health order in January 2019, requiring the increased screening of syphilis for pregnant women statewide. While cases were rare in New Mexico prior to 2017, recent years have seen a sharp increase in syphilis statewide–including far more cases among heterosexual women. New Mexico saw six cases in 2017, 10 in 2018, and an alarming 26 cases in 2019. That trend is expected to continue. 

In addition to talking to your partner about STDs before having sex, the Department of Health advises New Mexicans to get tested for STDs. Knowing your status and receiving treatment is the most effective way of preventing spread.

Many people with syphilis do not have any symptoms. Also, syphilis symptoms may be very mild, or be similar to signs of other health problems. The only way for anyone to know for sure if they have syphilis is to get tested.

For more information about syphilis and congenital syphilis, visit