Detroit Evening Report: State health department reports sharp rise in Syphilis cases

Listen to the latest episode of the “Detroit Evening Report” podcast.

Detroit City Council Member Angela Whitfield Calloway is hoping to shine a spotlight on Syphilis this month after the state health department reported a significant rise in cases over the last few years.

Subscribe to the Detroit Evening Report on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can seriously affectthe health of men, women and infants. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reports that Syphilis cases have risen on average 11% annually since 2012, with Detroit home to the highest rates of the disease in the state.

MDHHS reported a 25% increase between 2020 and 2021 alone.

Health officials are especially concerned about the risk to pregnant women, as the rate of syphilis among pregnant women has tripled since 2018, according to the agency. Congenital syphilis can be prevented if women are treated during pregnancy.

Testing for the disease is required by law but the state says only 50% of expecting mothers are actually tested. Pregnant women diagnosed with Syphilis are treated with one to three doses of penicillin.

Council Member Calloway introduced a resolution in February to designate April as “Syphilis Awareness Month” in the city of Detroit.

“I share in the concerns of the experts from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who are sounding this alarm nationwide,” Calloway said in the resolution.

For more information about Syphilis and how to prevent it, visit

Other headlines for Tuesday, April 2, 2024:

  • The MDHHS is reminding people to renew their Medicaid coverage annually after the renewal process was reinstated last May.
  • The Detroit snack maker Better Made has filed a federal lawsuit against more than a dozen Michigan marijuana companies and dispensaries for abusing its trademark.
  • The Detroit’s Reparations Task Force is holding a public session both virtually and in-person from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Northwest Activities Center in Detroit, with Marcia Black of the Black Bottom Archives as guest speaker.
  • The Michigan Science Center and Axalta Coating Systems are hosting a Community Free Day at the center from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 5, with special programming focused on space exploration and astronomy.
  • The Sherwood Forest Branch Library is hosting a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party from 3 to 5 p.m. on Monday, April 8. 

Do you have a community story we should tell? Let us know in an email at

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Sascha Raiyn
    Sascha Raiyn is Education Reporter at 101.9 WDET. She is a native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.