Health officials in Riverside County, California say they’ve reached a “critical point” with the number of syphilis infections, particularly in the Coachella Valley, where the rate of infection is nearly three times the rate countywide.


The surge in syphilis has prompted a collaboration of Riverside County health officials, medical providers, community groups and others to tackle the problem.

The Riverside County Syphilis Community Collaborative will hold its inaugural meeting at 1:30 p.m. May 15 at the Demuth Community Center in Palm Springs, 3601 E. Mesquite Ave.

The meeting is part of RUHS-Public Health’s “Spotlight on Syphilis (S.O.S.) campaign to bring attention to the ongoing spike in cases. Future community forums will take place throughout Riverside County.

By sharing information and ideas, health officials hope they can come up with achievable strategies and goals, even as funding for public health and health care is shrinking.

The spread of syphilis has been a growing concern in California and nationally for several years. In Riverside County, the rate is about 12 cases per 100,000 population, according to the latest figures. However, the rate for the Coachella Valley is 32 per 100,000, and in Palm Springs that figure is well over 100 cases per 100,000.

Syphilis stats:

  • North Palm Springs has the highest rate of syphilis in Riverside County at 185 cases per 100,000 population.
  • Men make up more than 90 percent of all syphilis cases in Riverside County.
  • While Whites make up the highest number of syphilis cases in the Coachella Valley, Blacks have the highest rate of infection at 67.1 per 100,000 population.