Sexual Health news - Syphilis

Syphilis tests may save the lives of a million babies worldwide


It's estimated that about 2 million women worldwide are infected with syphilis while pregnant each year, and about half of them end up infecting their babies as well. According to the Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership (GCPS), sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing during pregnancy could dramatically curb the number of infant deaths stemming from these infections.

Reuters recently reported on the group's findings, stating that syphilis testing among pregnant women is an inexpensive option that may save the lives of a million babies each year. In fact, not only is testing low-cost, but antibiotic treatment of the infection also tends to be cheap.

Peter Piot, chair of the GCPS and director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the news source that women should be tested and, if applicable, treated for syphilis before their 28th week of pregnancy.

"This ... research has shown that new simple tests for syphilis can be effectively introduced all over the world, from urban areas in China and Peru to remote villages in East Africa and even more remote indigenous populations deep in the Amazon rain forest," Piot said, quoted by Reuters.

In the U.S, fewer than 1,000 pregnant women contract syphilis each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, rates of bacterial vaginosis and herpes simplex virus 2 are much higher, at 1.1 million and 880,000, respectively. An estimated 100,000 pregnant women become infected with chlamydia and 124,000 contract trichomoniasis, the CDC reported.

These statistics underscore the importance of STD testing even during pregnancy. Some women may forgo condom use during sex because they know they can't get pregnant again, but they should be aware that their risk of catching an STD is the same as it was before.