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Home Industry News Doctors need training to spot syphilis, medics say

Doctors need training to spot syphilis, medics say

18th March 2008

Healthcare professionals need to be trained to recognise the different stages of syphilis, US-based doctors have said.

The medics argue that syphilis rates are rising in high income countries, but many doctors are unfamiliar with the various symptoms of the sexually transmitted infection due to its low incidence for the past two decades.

Writing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, the medics say there needs to be renewed vigilance among medical professionals to prevent the further spread of syphilis.

According to the UK’s Health Protection Agency, syphilis diagnoses in males declined in the early to mid-1980s, coinciding with emerging awareness of HIV and adoption of safer sex practices.

But between 1998 and 2006 rates of diagnoses of infectious syphilis (primary and secondary) in males increased 20-fold.

The STI affects about 12 million people worldwide each year and can be treated with antibiotics.

Today’s report acknowledges that syphilis is particularly problematic in developing countries but says developed countries should not be complacent.

“The recent resurgence among men who have sex with men and some high-risk heterosexual couples raises cause for concern, and demands renewed vigilance among, and training of, health-care professionals,” the medics conclude.

“Similarly, efforts must be made to incorporate and evaluate new diagnostic social tools, social network approaches, innovative evidence-based prevention interventions, robust disease surveillance, and systematic monitoring and evaluation of prevention, treatment, and care activities.”

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