The spread of syphilis in Europe is intensifying due to worrying trends in human sexual behavior. Syphilis stopped being “a disease of the past” after its worrying resurgence in Europe.
Less fear of contracting HIV and the rise of dating apps are among the factors behind the problem. Various factors play into the outbreak, such as “people having sex without condoms, multiple sexual partners and a reduced fear of acquiring HIV from sex.
The head of the HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and viral hepatitis program at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Andrew Amato-Gauci, shows that between 2010 and 2017, the number of confirmed cases of syphilis across the EU soared by 70%.
Certain countries have seen a surge of the sexually-transmitted disease, with Iceland ultimately becoming the ‘leader’, as the number of cases has grown by 876% there. Ireland follows with 224% growth, while Britain and Germany have both seen their syphilis rates more than double.
According to the ECDC, “men having sex with men” (MSM) made up around two-third of the cases reported between 2007 and 2017, where sexual orientation was known. Heterosexual men constitute 23% of the cases, and women, 15%.
There are reports that dating apps like Tinder and Grindr also contribute to the spread of the disease.
Amato-Gauci pointed out that these services “may facilitate more sexual encounters, and with that transmission of STI [sexually-transmitted infections] like syphilis.”
To reverse the spread of syphilis, the countries need to encourage people to use condoms “consistently,” as well as developing better screening and education programs.
There is currently no vaccine for syphilis, but several research groups are working on developing one, including Giacani’s. He believes that “more could be done” by various European countries to develop it and study the problem.
Government involvement at this stage is mandatory, as [the medical] industry might not see such effort as a cost-effective one.”
Among the most troubling trends in developed nations, he noted a “significant rise” in congenital syphilis rates, which means a greater number of cases in which the disease is transmitted to the fetus during gestation.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Medical News 2019.