United Kingdom: Syphilis Cases Soar 10 Years After Doctors Thought It Had Been Beaten
July 7, 2006
Health Protection Agency figures released Tuesday show syphilis rates have risen dramatically in the last 10 years. The increase, 23 percent last year on top of 39 percent between 2003 and 2004, is partly attributed to unprotected gay sex, HPA experts said. Sixty percent of male cases last year -- or 1,445 new cases -- were gay, up from 20 in 1996.
Cases have increased among heterosexual men, up to 945 last year from 74 in 1996, while cases among women have risen from 283 to 417 in the past year.
The number of syphilis cases treated at genitourinary medicine clinics, 2,807 in 2005 compared with 2,278 the previous year, represents a 1,159 percent increase since 2000, and a 2,048 increase over the past 10 years.
HPA said the total number of STD infections had increased by 3 percent over the last year, to 790,387. The most common STD, chlamydia, rose by 5 percent to 109,832. New gonorrhea cases fell by 13 percent, a considerable decline for the second successive year, though they continued to increase in the gay community. Tuesday's figures indicate the biggest increase for both sexes is in the 16-24 age group.
Professor Peter Boriello, director of HPA's center for infections, said young people tend to view STDs flippantly, and the serious consequences of the infections need to be communicated.
"The big deal is HIV severely disrupts the immune system and can kill; human papillomavirus can give you cancer; chlamydia can make you sterile; syphilis can cause brain disease and can cause congenital malformations, and that's just a sample," said Boriello. "We need to shatter the complacency that exists among young people."
The Guardian (London)
07.05.2006; Sarah Hall
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