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Syphilis rapidly
on the rise in China

Syphilis rapidly
on the rise in China

China is having a significant syphilis epidemic, reports this week's issue of The Lancet.

The research team of Xiang-Sheng Chen from the National Center for STD Control found less than 0. 2 cases of syphilis per 100,000 people between 1989 and 1992. By 2005, that number had risen to 5.1. In addition, cases of congenital syphilis increased 72% over the same period of time.

Since the 1960s the country has remained virtually free of syphilis and other STDs because of mass screening programs, free treatment, and the elimination of brothels. However, the reemergence of sex work, changing sexual practices, inadequate access to health care, and the poor quality and expense of health services are to blame for the resurgence.

Syphilis infection can cause genital ulcers and chronic severe complications to the cardiovascular and nervous systems, and it can have a debilitating effect on reproductive and neonatal health.

China has previously proven that the control of syphilis is possible, say the researchers. In light of their findings, they urge the government to establish a new national campaign of affordable syphilis screening and treatment. (The Advocate)

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