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Syphilis on the rise

syphilisThe Ministry of Health is monitoring what seems to be an increase in the number of syphilis cases in Barbados.

Ministry officials disclosed that recent studies have revealed that a growing number of persons were testing positive for this sexually transmitted infection.

In a recent advisory, health authorities said they were in the process of enhancing their monitoring systems for syphilis and other STIs, as well as gathering data for more detailed analyses that would allow them to determine those who were most at risk.

Syphilis is a bacterium that can cause long-term complications and/or death if not adequately treated. It is transmitted from person to person by direct sexual contact with syphilis sores, known as a chancre. It can be easily diagnosed through a blood test. If a person tests positive, treatment will consist of the appropriate antibiotics, which should be prescribed by a physician.

Health authorities also advise sexually active persons to use latex condoms correctly and consistently to prevent the transmission of syphilis and other STIs.

Officials also warn Barbadians to avoid excessive use of alcohol and other mind-altering substances which could impair their judgement and lead to risky sexual behaviour.

“It is important that sex partners talk to each other about their HIV status and history of other STIs so that preventive action can be taken,” they advised.

The Ministry of Health has an STI programme as a key component of its HIV response. The mandate of this programme is to prevent and control the spread of STIs in Barbados. This is done through disease surveillance, research and laboratory diagnostics to determine the burden of STIs in Barbados and the provision of treatment.

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