Georgia’s congenital syphilis rate is at its highest level since record-keeping began in 1998. The rate has increased every year since 2016. Congenital syphilis is preventable. Each case is one too many when adequate prenatal care, syphilis testing, and early treatment can save lives. This year the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 46 which revises current testing requirements for pregnant women by requiring clinicians who care for a woman during pregnancy to perform HIV and syphilis testing at the first prenatal visit, 28-32 weeks gestation, and upon delivery.
This law will go into effect on July 1, 2023. Syphilis treatment (benzathine penicillin G only) initiated at least 30 days before birth has proven effective at decreasing the chances that a baby is born with congenital syphilis.
Treatment for HIV should be initiated immediately. HIV antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy, at the time of delivery, and prophylaxis to the newborn dramatically reduce perinatal transmission of HIV.
In addition to the new requirements put in place under Senate Bill 46, Georgia law also requires all Georgia physicians, laboratories, and other clinicians to report patients with syphilis infections to the Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Code OCGA §31-12-2). Both laboratory-confirmed and clinical diagnoses are reportable within the specified time intervals.
Ensuring your patients are tested at appropriate intervals will help protect the health and well-being of every mother and infant in Georgia.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your district public health office, or call the Georgia Department of Public Health at 1-866-PUBHLTH (1-866-782-4584).