Regular tests advised as syphilis cases rise

Media Release 28 April 2016 | Auckland Regional Sexual Health Service is advising regular testing as infectious syphilis continues to rise in the Auckland region, particularly amongst men having sex with men. 

Approximately 80% more cases were reported last year (2015) compared to the previous year through the enhanced syphilis surveillance programme in New Zealand sexual health clinics. 

Dr Murray Reid, lead clinician at Auckland Sexual Health Service warns that cases in the Auckland region account for nearly two thirds of national cases. 

“The great majority of cases are amongst gay and bisexual men, many of whom do not have any symptoms but are being diagnosed through routine testing,” explains Dr Reid.

“Syphilis is a serious disease but is treatable with antibiotics and we recommend all men with new male sexual contacts get tested for syphilis at least every six months.”  

Many people do not get any symptoms and would not know they have syphilis without having a blood test. Those that have symptoms may experience genital skin sores, anal lumps or an unusual rash on the hands and feet or torso. 

The infection can also be transmitted through oral sex from an infectious sexual contact. The use of condoms for anal sex will reduce the risk of transmission of syphilis and is further recommended for the prevention of HIV transmission.

Anyone with any concerns or who requires a test should contact their GP or Auckland Regional Sexual Health Service on 0800 739432 or www.ashs.org.nz

More information about syphilis can be found at the Auckland Sexual health Service’s website www.ashs.org.nz

auckland regional public health service