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March 28, 1964

Contraceptives and the Incidence of Syphilis

JAMA. 1964;187(13):1035. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060260063028

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To the Editor:—  The major rise in the incidence of syphilis in the United States has been in two groups of people, adult homosexuals and teenagers. At first glance these groups seem to share no common features, except perhaps promiscuity. But sexual promiscuity is certainly not rare among adult heterosexual persons. One common feature of these two groups, which may at first not be apparent, is their failure to use contraceptives, the one from lack of need and the other from ignorance. Seen from this angle the relatively smaller rise in syphilis among heterosexual adults tends to confirm the value of contraceptives in reducing the transmission of this disease.The advent of methods of contraception by suppression of ovulation may change this. Many women now using spermatocidal jellies (which are also spirocheticidal) will be changing to hormonal methods with subsequent loss of the incidental protection against syphilis. Thus, in coming

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