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HSE issue warning after 'significant increase' in syphilis in Cork

HealthBy Sunday World
A total of 21 cases have been reported in the Cork/Kerry region between January and June 2016
A total of 21 cases have been reported in the Cork/Kerry region between January and June 2016

The Health Service Executive have issued a warning after a significant increase in cases of syphilis in the Cork area.

In a statement the HSE reveal that there are three times as many cases in the first half of 2016 than there were in 2015.

A total of 21 cases have been reported in the Cork/Kerry region between January and June 2016, compared to seven in the same period last year.

Gay men are most at risk, with 80 per cent of the cases involving men who had sex with men.

In relation to the rise in Cork, Dr. Aileen Kitching, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the Department of Public Health in Cork said: “the cases we are seeing are mostly in men who have sex with men with over half of male cases in older adult age groups, over 35 years of age. Around one in five of these cases have had one or more other STIs.  

"Increased public awareness about STIs including signs and symptoms and where you can get tested is essential. Having syphilis once does not protect a person from becoming infected again. Even following successful treatment, people can be reinfected. So, unless you know that all of your sex partners have been tested and treated, you may be at risk of getting syphilis again from an untreated partner. We also remind everyone of the importance of using a condom every time they have sex”.

Syphilis carriers may not know they have the disease, with half those with the infection not displaying any symptoms.

As a result, regular testing is the only way for the disease to be detected.

The Department of Public Health also issued advice to stem the spread of syphilis. “Safer sex practices and regular testing and treatment of infectious syphilis are the key to prevention," they said.

The HSE also advised that free STI testing is available in the Cork STI clinic based in South Infirmary Victoria Hospital, Old Blackrock Road, Cork.

For more information on testing in Cork call 021 4966 844.  The STI clinic provide outreach clinics in Kerry General Hospital for appointments call 021 4966 844 and Youth Health Service, Penrose Quay, Cork, call 076 1084150.