Edmonton Journal (08.24.12)
Cases of syphilis are increasing worldwide, and Canada is no exception to this trend. Cases of the STD have risen dramatically over the last two decades in Canada, spiking to more than 1,750 reports in 2010 from 177 in 1993, according to most recent statistics. Other STDs, notably chlamydia and gonorrhea, also are rising.
“The dynamics seem to be slightly different” for syphilis than for the other two STDs, said Dr. Howard Njoo, director-general of Public Health Agency of Canada’s Center for Communicable Diseases and Infection Control. “For the other two it seems to be younger individuals. In this case, it tends to be older ones. For example, people age 30 and older accounted for 73 percent of all the reported cases in 2010,” he said. “In 2010, men accounted for 90.5 percent of all the reported cases.”
Many are men who have sex with men, although other high-risk groups include sex workers, injecting drug users, and people with multiple sex partners.
Syphilis “tends to not get the same attention as other infections because it is treatable,” said Dr. Vanessa Allen, a medical microbiologist at Public Health Ontario. “But there are consequences to not identifying it and not treating it,” she said.
The public needs to be educated about STD prevention, including the use of condoms, Allen said. “But it’s also educating health workers and public health workers to be on the alert for this, so it can be identified sooner.”