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There has been a call for public debate focusing on STIs (sexually transmitted infections) as cases reach the highest level for seventy years in regions of Scotland and England.

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Syphilis can be a life-threatening disease and affects the heart, nervous system and brain, leading to severe damage.

Cases of the STI have doubled this past decade alone, with cases in England rising 20 per cent in 2015 and with men accounting for 94 per cent of diagnoses. Patient numbers have almost doubled in the last eight years, from over 2,600 to more than 5,200.

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Public Health England has warned that sex without a condom has contributed to this rise.

It has been said that all those who have had sex without a condom must get tested, as symptoms may not be present. For home STI kits in London, contact an organisation such as https://www.bexleysexualhealth.org/chlamydia_screening/.

Other Victorian-era-linked diseases such as scarlet fever, gout and rickets are also on the rise, along with syphilis, and have been linked to falling living standards in the UK as many struggle to cope with growing financial inequity.

What Is Syphilis?

A bacterial infection, syphilis is usually spread by unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with someone who is infected, or the sharing of needles. Pregnant women who are infected can also pass the disease onto the foetus, leading to a risk of stillbirth or miscarriage.

There are often no obvious symptoms, with some symptoms even disappearing over time, leaving the disease dormant in the body and at risk of spreading.

Symptoms include:

•       Small, painless ulcers or sores on the vagina, penis or around the mouth or anus.
•       Red, blotchy rashes on soles of the feet or palms of the hand.
•       Skin growths on anus or vulva.
•       White patches inside the mouth.
•       Headaches, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain.

If left untreated, the disease can reach further stages, infecting the liver, skin, brain and muscles and resulting in blindness, mental impairment or even death.

Treatment

Once a death sentence, syphilis is now almost entirely curable by a course of penicillin injections or tablets. Syphilis must be discussed in order to prevent further cases and promote treatment. The risk can be reduced by the use of condoms and dental dams.


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