News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 

Rise in syphilis cases prompts calls to practise safe sex

Rise in syphilis cases prompts calls to practise safe sex

Date: 13 April 2018

A rise in the number of syphilis cases being reported in New Zealand is prompting renewed calls for people to practise safe sex, including the use of condoms.

The unfortunate rise has seen New Zealand fall into line with current international trends.

The incidence of syphilis has been on the rise in New Zealand since 2012. Provisional data from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) Ltd, indicates that the number of syphilis cases reported in 2017 has more than doubled since 2015, with 470 cases reported.

The highest number of cases were reported in males aged 20-39 years, particularly those in the 25-29 age group, in the Auckland and Wellington regions. Nearly 70% of the cases were reported in men who have sex with men (MSM) and nearly 21% of these cases were also HIV positive.

MSM remains the group most affected by syphilis. However over recent years there has also been a steady increase in cases diagnosed in heterosexual males and females in New Zealand. For women, the highest number of cases reported in 2017 was in the 20–39 years age group.

Similar trends have been seen in Australia, the UK and the US in recent years, with cases first increasing in MSM, followed by the heterosexual population, with an increased risk of congenital syphilis if pregnant women are affected.

The Ministry of Health’s Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says the ministry is committed to seeing a reverse in this trend.

Dr McElnay says there are a number of key messages to remind people how best to prevent the transmission of syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections (STI).

“Transmission of these STIs can be reduced by using condoms every time with casual sexual partners; and regular partners.”

“If you have unprotected sex, or more than one sexual partner, the Ministry of Health encourages you to get tested even if you don’t have any symptoms.”

If you think that you have syphilis or are at risk of syphilis, see your doctor or local sexual health clinic.

Additional information on syphilis can be found on the Your Health Syphilis page

In January 2017, syphilis was made anonymously notifiable under the Health Act. This is expected to help to further identify at risk groups and enable appropriately targeted sexual and public health interventions.

Background

Syphilis is a serious bacterial infection that can cause significant complications. Syphilis is usually sexually transmitted but can also be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or birth, resulting in serious complications and sometimes death.

Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. If not treated, over time, syphilis can affect the brain, spinal cord and other organs. Having untreated syphilis also increases your risk of catching HIV infection.

The symptoms of syphilis depend on the stage of infection; primary, secondary, and late (tertiary).

The first symptoms of syphilis usually include genital (or possibly oral or anal) ulcers that are often painless, with swollen local nodes. The ulcers usually last a few weeks, often followed by rashes, and sometimes with fever, tiredness, headache, persistent swollen lymph nodes, hair loss or warty growths especially in the genital or anal areas.

Symptoms disappear after a few weeks without treatment, however the disease continues to slowly develop if left undiagnosed and untreated. Complications appear after months or years and can affect multiple parts of the body, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.

As the symptoms and the severity of syphilis may vary and as the symptoms will disappear even though the disease continues to develop, it is recommended that people at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (i.e. those with multiple sexual partners and/or practising unprotected sex) are tested regularly for syphilis and other STIs, even if they use condoms.

Preventing syphilis transmission to others also requires timely diagnosis and treatment to reduce spread, contact tracing and follow-up of treated individuals.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Joseph Cederwall Review: NZSO Plays Zappa

The first of the NZSO’s Shed Series concerts at the more informal and intimate space of Wellington's Shed 6 last Friday night featured music composed by, or with a connection to Frank Zappa. Zappa, a psychedelic rock legend, activist and popular culture figure and all round colourful character, was an excellent choice for the concert’s theme of innovation. More>>

Let The Games Begin: PM Sends Best Wishes To Athletes

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has sent her warm wishes to the New Zealand athletes preparing for the opening of the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast... More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review of Books: Martin Edmonds' The Expatriates

This book is an extension of, and tribute to, the life’s work of James McNeish. Without sacrificing any degree of authorial independence, the result is gracefully written, handsomely produced, and likely to propagate many further works of its kind. More>>

Max Rashbrooke Review: The King's Singers and Voices New Zealand

To be good at one thing is impressive; to be so versatile across a range of genres is truly exceptional. More>>

Joe Cederwall Review: WOMAD 2018 - Harmony of Difference (part 1)

A friend described WOMAD as his “favourite white middle class celebration of diversity.” There is certainly an echo of truth to this as the crowd is still largely white and middle class, but this WOMAD for me represented that a better world is possible ... More>>

Harmony of Difference (part 2)

Top international world music artists seldom make it down to this neck of the woods, so for those of us into this sort of thing WOMAD is certainly a welcome addition to the cultural calendar. Now it is a case of waiting and looking forward to seeing what they manage to conjure up for next year. More>>

Howard Davis Review: A Bigger Splash - Te Papa Celebrates Twenty Years

Considering the available resources, this is a decidedly hit-and-miss affair, mainly due to some highly questionable curatorial decisions. In their overweening wish to "push boundaries," Charlotte Davy and Megan Tamati-Quennell have made a number of serious miscalculations by ignoring a basic rule - keep it simple. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland