Syphilis outbreak

Health authorities here are reporting an outbreak of syphilis on the island.

Senior Medical Officer with responsibility for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Dr Anton Best said the outbreak was first detected in 2013 and the Ministry of Health immediately put systems in place to improve syphilis surveillance in Barbados.

A just-completed report analyzed trends in new cases over a four-year period between 2011 and 2014.

According to the Senior Medical Officer, the study revealed a significant increase in the number of syphilis cases between 2011 and 2013. Subsequently, the outbreak stabilized in 2014 and 2015, he added.

“The majority of cases occurred in men (72 per cent). Nearly three-quarters of cases occurred in persons between the ages of 15 and 49 years, with the average age of a syphilis case being 34 years,” Dr. Best explained.

The study investigators, concerned about the potential for syphilis to be transmitted to babies, also looked at syphilis testing trends among pregnant women.

The Senior Medical Officer said they found that very high proportions of pregnant women, more than 95 per cent, were screened for syphilis during pregnancy. The report stated that no increase in syphilis cases in pregnant women was detected during the four-year period under review. There was, however, one case of congenital syphilis in 2014.

“The Ministry of Health first raised the alarm in July 2013 and commenced a health education campaign to increase awareness about STIs so more people would be tested for them and protect themselves from acquiring them,”  the Senior Medical Officer said.

The health official explained that syphilis was a sexually transmitted infection that could cause serious health problems if it was not treated.

“It is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary), and there are different signs and symptoms associated with each stage. Syphilis can be spread by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Sores can be found on or around the penis, vagina, or anus, or in the rectum, on the lips, or in the mouth. Syphilis can also be spread from an infected mother to her unborn baby,” he pointed out.

Dr. Best stressed that the only way to completely avoid STIs was to abstain from vaginal, anal or oral sex. Those who were sexually active, he said, could reduce their chances of getting syphilis by being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for syphilis; and by using latex condoms correctly every time they have sex. Condoms, he noted, prevented transmission of syphilis by preventing contact with a sore.

The health official stated that his Ministry’s HIV and STI Programme would continue to conduct ongoing surveillance for syphilis and other STIs in Barbados. He also reassured that the Ministry would also continue to implement strategies, including more aggressive health promotion and awareness, to prevent and control the spread of STIs and HIV. (BGIS)

27 Responses to Syphilis outbreak

  1. Santini More
    Santini More March 14, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Time for Govt & NGO’s to redouble the effort to promote Safe Sex. There are so many more sexually transmitted diseases out there than the HIV virus and practicing safe sex can protect from most of them.

    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 14, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Wunna always wait pun de govment tah do everyting though. Why wunna don’t tek de initiative and do it fah wunna self though?

    • Santini More
      Santini More March 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Mark Fenty You do recognise that the Govt has a responsibility for public health? As such, even though they may not be able to arrive on the scene and put a condom on every erect member, they can continue to warn folks of the dangers of not practicing safe sex….It is so much more cost effective to put out the public health warnings than it is to provide care and medication to those who contract STI’s.

      • lester March 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        i agree with mark, we are responsible for our health, sexual and otherwise, governments implements policy, humans must carry them out, we have become a society of dependence that is why the politicians treat us the way they do, and what really is SAFE SEX, hmmmm

    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 14, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      I do agree that public awareness is an effective method of stemming the spread of infectious disease, but we can’t always depend on goverment to legislate our behaviour. We have to be responsible enough to understand that unsafe sexual practices can’t lead to anything productive. And let me end by saying this: the onus probandi is on every man and woman to take the issue of his or her health serious because his or her very life depends upon it.

    • Santini More
      Santini More March 14, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      Mark Fenty My original post did not speak of legislation it merely suggested that Government & NGO’s increase the public health warnings about the need to practice Safe Sex…So we are in agreement?

    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 14, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Oh Lord can you interpretively extrapolate? The premise of my argument is that we must be proactive enough to take our very health in our hand rather than to wait on some government advisory. I took the initiative to study the above sexually transmitted diseases, and you as well others can do likewise rather than wait on some government warning.

    • Santini More
      Santini More March 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      Mark Fenty I congratulate you on being such a self-starter. Unfortunately there are many people who do not take such initiatives, hence the Government who is entrusted with our tax dollars to protect the public’s health, should increase their public Safe Sex campaigns to arrest the uptick in STI’s.

    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 14, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Thanks, but I don’t know about you, but I am not too trusting of government, so I refuse take what government supplies the public at face-value, so I do my own research to arrive at a conclusion that appeases me. And what government should to do and what government does, is an argument yet to be had as far as I am concerned.

    • Nicole Clarke
      Nicole Clarke March 14, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      We dont need the government. We need to have the common sense to use protection during sex and the morals and standards to stop having sex with multiple people. Government cant do that for us.. The people in government dont even practise safe sex, so i dont get you.

    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 14, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Now I am not trying to be comical here because the issue of HIV/AIDS is quite a serious one, but HIV is a gift which keep on giving, and what I am essentially trying to convey is the fact that once you have gotten it, you’re going to have it until you die because there is no potential cure for such a virus as we confabulate, so that should in of itself exact some measure of fear in the minds of those persons who are comtemplating
      the possibility of engaging in unsafe sex practices. And let me end by saying this: beyond common-sense and the proper morals, we have to arm ourselves with the right information, beause as I’ve pointed out above ( but don’t tek my word for it) a female can still be infected with the herpes virus even if the male is wearing condom, if his testicles comes into contact with her vagina and vice a versa.

  2. Mark Fenty
    Mark Fenty March 14, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I thought the HIV campaign was up and running in Barbados? Now there is no more safer sex than abstinence prior marriage because condoms aren’t a hundred percent safe. For ample: a female can still contact herpes from a male who is using a condom if his testicles comes into contact with her vagina. And a female can still contact a sexually transmitted disease if she sits on toilet previously used by and infested female. Gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, herpes simplex 1 & 2, HIV/AIDS, chlamydia crabs etc are some of the sexually transmitted diseases to look out for.

  3. Bajan March 14, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Wait a minute. So what is this data really saying? That during the early period of economic hardship Bajans were engaged in some old time bartering? Give me some fuh a free bus ride, a box of Chefette or a light bill payment?

  4. Smiley March 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm


  5. Donild Trimp March 14, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Time to bring in harsh legislation to publish the names in the Government Gazette of all those who are diagnosed with a communicable STD with certain exceptions, eg., victims.

    People must understand the consequences of their actions.

  6. Kim Gaskin
    Kim Gaskin March 14, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Sad n deed…. very… sad

  7. Levi Mayers
    Levi Mayers March 14, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    yet another reason why i am happy that i am chaste

  8. Leona Nurse-hinds
    Leona Nurse-hinds March 14, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Goverment and NGOS? every should be responsible for them self and pratice safe sex

  9. Alex Alleyne March 14, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    When AIDS was all over the place , the call was to ‘wrap-it-up”. After the focus die dowm as the numbers are showing , most people now “riding-bare-back”.
    What next in the making to tek us all out through SEX.

  10. Sandrene
    Sandrene 'Rosie' 'Rose' Holder March 14, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Celibacy helps..

  11. Mikey March 14, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Any one who downplays or disagrees with Government EDUCATING and REMINDING owners of ERECTED PENISES to put Condoms on them is, being NAIVE and STUPID.
    @Mark Fenty, hope you keep a “SOFT OFF” rather than a “HARD ON” for the rest of your Life !!!

  12. Anfaani Henry
    Anfaani Henry March 14, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    No condoms
    Get std’s

  13. Jennifer March 14, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Listen guys all this talk about condoms will not wash. Are you a child that a gov’t got to tell you what to do in a bedroom, car, bush, closet at work etc. At some point that condom will come off. Weather in passion, blah blah blah. One of the things when talking to a person is to get a medical certificate. Also give a grace period and retest. And make it for specific diseases too. But then we got the closet gays too coming with their share of $hit. You know what on second thought just go back to god how you came. Hahahahahahahaha

  14. Jennifer March 14, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    93% Black.
    One of the main reasons why government will have to advise about and teach people on having safe sex is because the majority of black men are still in plantation mode. When the white man told them to go and screw and breed, here, there and everywhere to produce cargo for sale. That was fun and the norm of the day. Sadly that era has continued with the majority of men now doing this bad stuff on their own without being told. It is like how black young people will automatically rush to the back of the bus without being told. The same thing goes for bed winching etc. Not really maturing or moving forward very fast. Hence we get the unwanted pregnancies, and men getting their pay garnish for 18 plus years. Then throw every venereal disease in the book into that pot, you got one nasty brew. Both young and old doing the same thing. No responsibility what so ever and leaving their sexual health for women to care of.

  15. Coralita March 15, 2017 at 12:58 am

    We supposed to be 98% literate. We want one university graduate in each household, we want government to pay for our education from the cradle to the grave. We want the government to scratch our backsides when they itch. Guvment this and Guvment that. Look since wunna so darn educated go and take charge of wunna own health.

    Love, Poetry and Song was just held in February and the airwaves were flooded with ads about safe sex. The theme was “Safe Sex is Still Sexy”. Ever so often you see LIVE UP Ads on screen, Live up, Love, Protect, Respect. What more spoon feeding you people want???

    We as people are too careless and carefree with our lives and when we get sick, we blame everyone else but our careless selves. The same can be said about people with Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases, they don’t do what they are supposed to do to improve their health either.

    What message are we really putting out there about ourselves???

  16. Chestnut! March 15, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    I agreed with every one here! It is still a responsibility for Government to sensitized the public on STI’s .ppl speak a lot about HIV but they are so much other STI’s out there that the general public are not aware of! Through health promotion is one of the method we used to educate the public from acquiring such infections! The same way for Chronic non- communicable disaese, ppl just do not take care of themselves and then they suffer , life expectancy is shortened! It is everyone’s responsibility to take charge! We the Government health care budget is really high on health, such become a burden to Government and all strategies will be utilized to reach theses target groups! Public health nurses can do a lot more through Government! Nevertheless some would say the Government have no finances! Barbadian society need to look at our culture, our values and what is deem except able to society! Wrap it up or abstian!


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