26 September 2023

Health launches campaign to counter syphilis

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The Department of Health has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the sexually transmissible infection (STI) syphilis and the fact there is currently an outbreak across Australia.

In a statement, the Department said syphilis caused both immediate and long-term health issues, but could be treated with antibiotics.

It said, however, not everyone with syphilis had symptoms, which meant people often did not know they had the infection.

“For those with symptoms, the first sign of syphilis is the appearance of sores or ulcers at the site of the infection (genitals and mouth),” the Department said.

“Over time, the disease can develop into rashes, skin lesions, swollen lymph nodes, hair loss, muscle and joint aches, headaches and fatigue,” it said.

“If left untreated, syphilis can eventually cause brain infections, dementia, lung and heart failure, blindness and death.”

The Department said that, in 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in Australia increased by nearly 90 per cent from recorded rates in 2015.

“Three populations are most at risk — men who have sex with men; women of child-bearing age; and those who live in outbreak areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities),” it said.

“Untreated syphilis during pregnancy can lead to the mother passing the infection to their baby before birth.

“This can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature births, low birth weight and death of the baby shortly after birth.”

The Department said its campaign would run nationally on a range of online channels, including social media, to raise awareness of syphilis.

More information on the campaign can be accessed at this PS News link.

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