Health Protection Scotland (HPS) has reported that the number of cases of Syphilis in the last half of 2013 has increased significantly, especially in young hetrosexual people aged between 15 and 25, where five times the number of expected people have tested positive.

Young people may not come forward for syphilis testing, and failure to treat itcan lead to serious complications, including heart problems and worse if left untreated.  There have been various measures  taken to try to prevent and control the growing number of cases, including enhanced contact tracing offered to help people come forward about their previous partners so that they can be encouraged to come forward for testing by a trained healthcare professional, as well as making sure that treatment is completed when someone does test positive.

HPS said: “The board is urging anyone with symptoms or who may be at risk of infection to attend sexual health services or their GP to be tested…..Tayside residents seeking advice can speak with the sexual and reproductive health team at Ninewells Hospital.”

Dr Kirsty Licence said “Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through unprotected sex including oral sex….People with syphilis may develop a painless ulcer in the genital area or in their mouth. They may also develop a rash over their body, palms of the hands and soles of the feet….These symptoms may disappear without the person being aware of them, but the person will remain infected and risk infecting other sexual partners.”

Dr Licence said that she would expect half of the people who had contact with someone who was infected with syphilis to become infected.

Syphilis can be successfully treated with antibiotics, although prevention by using a condom is the best thing to do.

Better2Know has syphilis testing in all of its clinics across the UK.  Results are available the same day your sample is received in the lab.

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