CBC.ca (Canada) (03.18.13)
Aids Weekly Plus
The city of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada, experienced a nearly 70-percent increase in the number of syphilis cases from 2011 to 2012. Epidemiologist Holly D’Angelo-Scott, who tracks the spread of syphilis in Halifax, referred to the increase as an outbreak. She stated that officials were concerned and wanted to stop it. In 2008, the disease was not seen in the city. In 2010, there were 11 cases, in 2011 there were 35, and in 2012 there were 59. The disease was only found in men who have sex with men.
Health officials have been working to educate doctors and the public about the symptoms and transmission of syphilis. D’Angelo-Scott explained that syphilis can be spread through oral sex, but that some individuals may not understand that oral sex is sex and that the disease can be transmitted that way. She said that the increase in positive tests may mean that public education is working and that health officials are trying to determine whether the increase is due to more individuals being tested.
Health officials have identified 28 places where men with syphilis first met their sex partners. Some were physical locations and others were arranged online using applications on smart phones. The Capital District Health Authority is planning to launch a new education campaign in the spring using the same websites and apps. D’Angelo-Scott noted that the outbreak in Halifax is similar to patterns seen in other Canadian cities.