Syphilis cases on the rise in Hamilton, Niagara

Public health officials across the province are sounding the alarm over increasing cases of syphilis.

Both Hamilton and Niagara regions have seen an up-rise of the sexually transmitted infection over the last five years.

Syphilis starts out as a sore on the genitals and, if left untreated, it can turn into a full body rash.

In 2006, there were less than seven reported cases of the sexually transmitted disease in Hamilton. In 2018, there were 53.

Syphilis is a dangerous infection that is curable but can cause irreversible damage. It spreads via open sores, blood, and skin-on-skin contact. The STI has gone decades without much attention, thanks to an easy cure with penicillin.

Niagara Region Medical Officer of Health Mustafa Hirji says there are a few reasons why we are seeing a re-emergence of syphilis, one includes our “hook-up” culture and finding easy dates online.

The opioid crisis is also a contributing factor and the fact that people are simply less scared of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

In the Niagara Region, there were eight cases of syphilis reported in 2013 and in 2017, there were 38.

Hirji says this STI is particularly concerning for pregnant women as syphilis transfers to the unborn child.

Health officials are reminding the public to use condoms and to get tested for STI frequently.


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