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March 24/31, 1999

Syphilis, Drugs, and Driving

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JAMA. 1999;281(12):1075. doi:10.1001/jama.281.12.1075

The road to increased syphilis rates has a name: Interstate 95.

According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Pittsburgh, the highway that snakes from New York to South Florida promoted a sharp rise in North Carolina's syphilis rates, serving as a distribution route for drugs that increased risk behaviors as people traded drugs for sex.

The study, which appears this month in the American Journal of Public Health, compared the difference in syphilis rates between 1985 and 1994 in North Carolina counties that border the interstate with those that do not. The study also analyzed drug arrest rates in the counties during the same period.

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