Public health warning – syphilis on the increase

NSW Health is reminding people to look after their sexual health following a spike in infectious syphilis in Mildura in Victoria, which borders Far West Local Health District.

Victoria has reported 22 cases of infectious syphilis in Mildura, compared to 11 cases at the same time in 2018. Of those 22 cases, 15 were in women – a higher proportion than expected.

Jo Lenton, CNC Sexual Health/Hepatitis C, Far West LHD is encouraging people at risk of infection to talk to their GP or sexual health service, and to get tested and seek treatment as needed.

“No localised increase in cases has been seen on the NSW side of the border, but there has been a general increase in cases in NSW in recent years,” Ms Lenton said.

Syphilis is a sexually transmissible infection (STI) that is easily curable. Similar to other STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, people with syphilis do not always have symptoms.  Therefore, regular STI check-ups are needed to avoid passing the infection on to other people and to avoid long-term health consequences.

“Although men continue to account for the majority of syphilis infections in NSW, the number of cases in women has risen considerably.”

Testing is particularly important early in pregnancy, as pregnant women with untreated syphilis can pass the infection on to their unborn baby, which drastically increases the risk of stillbirth, premature birth, and life-long disability.

Confidential STI testing is available from your GP or local sexual health clinic.

NSW Health is currently investing $21.9 million in services to strengthen HIV and STI testing, treatment and prevention, including more than $1.5 million in sexual health programs for young people aged 16-29.

For sexual health support and information, call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 (Mon – Fri 9am-5.30pm), go to www.shil.nsw.gov.au, or visit NSW Health’s Play Safe website at https://playsafe.health.nsw.gov.au

 

 

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