New national action plan released to curb the increase in syphilis cases

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The Ministry of Health has released its new one National Action Plan for Syphilis in an important step in reversing an increasing number of cases of infection.

Syphilis cases in New Zealand have increased, following a similar trend in other countries.

In 2018, New Zealand had 543 cases of syphilis, 454 in males and 89 in females.

This compared to 2017 with 480 cases and 2016 to 322. Six years ago there were only 82 reported cases of syphilis.

Syphilis can be treated and treated with early intervention and antibiotics.

"We are very concerned about the growth in numbers, especially with regards to the increase in congenital syphilis, when the infection spreads from mother to child during pregnancy", says the deputy director of the Ministry of Public Health, dr. Niki Stefanogiannis.

"Congenital syphilis does not belong to New Zealand. The numbers are too high, and it is really important to do what we can now."

According to the plan of action, the groups most affected by syphilis are men who have sex with men (about 70% of all cases); Asian and Muslim men and mother mothers.

"These figures show how important it is to improve actions and access to health care for all New Zealanders."

The actions of the plan, developed in consultation with a working group composed of representatives working in the wider sexual health community, include:

  • Identification of the need to raise awareness in social media and schools to promote condom use and regular sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing
  • Improve the education available on syphilis for healthcare professionals, including maternity care providers
  • Prevent congenital syphilis – including support for the development of new guidelines on maternal syphilis and the development of new educational resources for midwives
  • National social marketing campaigns of the Ministry of Health to promote the use of condoms and regular STI tests
  • The ministry works with local communities to raise awareness of sexually transmitted infections among high-risk populations
  • The ministry works with the Department of Corrections to include syphilis and other STI screening in prison health checks
  • Production of a new syphilis podcast and new material on screening and sexually transmitted infections for primary care
  • Presentation of a text-based STI verification reminder
  • Provision of screening in emergency departments.

"By increasing the knowledge and awareness of all about syphilis and promoting condom use and STI testing, we will improve our prevention and eventually transform these numbers," says Dr. Stefanogiannis.

The action plan will be reviewed annually to ensure that New Zealand's approach to managing the increase in syphilis cases remains up to date.

View the National Action Plan for Syphilis

/ Public release. View in full Here.

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