Considerable stir has been generated by Young & Aral (Y&A) in a recent modelling study claiming to have demonstrated the potential of Google online search data to identify and predict syphilis outbreaks. The application of digital technologies to the epidemiology of STIs, and of syphilis in particular, is nothing new (Simms & Petersen (STI)). The […]
Sexually transmitted infections are amongst the fastest spreading high-incidence notifiable diseases in China
Sexually transmitted infections emerge from a recent epidemiological study as a particularly pressing concern for Chinese public health at the present time. Yang & Li (Y&L) assess trends in incidence and mortality in 45 notifiable infectious diseases across China over the decade since the SARS tragedy in 2003 brought important changes in Chinese public health […]
Global patterns in ante-natal syphilis prevalence: Why is sub-Saharan Africa different?
‘Can a meaningful pattern be discerned in the large variations in syphilis rates over the last century?’ This is the question addressed by a recent systematic review – Kenyon & Tsoumanis (K&T) – based on published data on ante-natal syphilis prevalence (ASP) from those countries for which that data is available since at least 1951. […]
What can cost-effectiveness modelling tell us about the feasibility of eliminating congenital syphilis in sub-Saharan Africa?
The WHO global initiative for the elimination of congenital syphilis (2007) set the goal of expanding antenatal testing to >90% by 2015. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) recent estimates place the number of mothers infected with active syphilis at 535,000 p.a.. Adverse outcomes – stillbirths, neo-natal morbidity and congenital disease – affect 53%-82% of these pregnancies, […]
Are point-of-care tests the answer to meeting WHO target for congenital syphilis?
Congenital syphilis (syphilis transmitted from mother to child (MTCT)) remains a scourge in many low- and middle- income countries (LMIC) causing stillbirth and neonatal death. This is despite the existence of inexpensive, cost-effective and feasible testing and treatment – and despite the fact that a majority of pregnant women, even in LMIC, attend antenatal clinics […]
Was the “sexual revolution” triggered by the decline of syphilis?
The year 1939 saw total US syphilis deaths at 15 per 100,000 and syphilis deaths of black males at 72.5 per 100,000: this is a death rate comparable to that for HIV/AIDS at the height of the epidemic in 1995 when total deaths and deaths of black males stood, respectively, at 16.2 and 80.2 per […]
Sustained health systems strengthening holds the key to prevention of mother-to-child transmission of syphilis
Half a million still-births annually are due to syphilis in pregnancy – deaths that could be averted by means of a single dose of penicillin. An important project, reported in PLoS Medicine by Mabey, Peeling et al., to introduce point-of-care syphilis tests (POCTs) at ante-natal clinics (ANCs) in six countries, has resulted in all six […]
Did syphilis really originate in the New World? An old theory reconsidered.
Outside Naples, 1495, an unknown epidemic struck the mercenary army of the French King Charles VIII, subsequently considered to be the first recorded outbreak of syphilis in the Old World. As early as the sixteenth century, the sudden emergence of the disease was popularly attributed to Columbus’ recent voyage to the New World. Yet doubts […]
What fluidics engineering can do to prevent vertical HIV/syphilis transmission in low resource settings
The economic case for investment in the prevention of vertical (mother to child) transmission of HIV and syphilis is easily made – even in low resource settings. Yet the virtual elimination of maternal HIV transmission remains a goal still to be achieved in many regions, while syphilis in pregnant mothers is often unaddressed with tragic […]
Screening for syphilis in pregnancy: evidence for the effectiveness of doing something
2 million pregnant women, mostly in low and middle-income countries, have syphilis in pregnancy resulting in adverse outcomes in 69% of cases. Given known low costs of screening and treatment, the figures are appalling. Is it really lack of evidence for the effectiveness of interventions that is holding things back? Yet one can only support […]