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Sunday 23rd October 2016

Syphilis on the rise in China

15th June 2010

Syphilis infections have increased by 30% every year over the past decade of rampant economic growth in China, according to state media sources.


Although the disease was almost wiped out in China 50 years ago, it has increased tenfold over the past decade, becoming one of the country's top five infectious diseases.

Between 2003 and 2008, mother-to-child syphilis transmissions jumped to 57 cases per 100,000 newborns.

Last month, researchers claimed that one child was born with syphilis in China every hour.

The article claimed that infected men passed the disease on to their wives, who in turn passed it on to their unborn babies.

Syphilis is caused by a simple bacterial infection, but social pressures in China can discourage people from seeking treatment.

In the month of May alone, China reported more than 32,000 syphilis cases, including two deaths.

The Chinese Ministry of Health names syphilis as one of the country's top five infections.

Chen Xiangsheng, deputy director of the China National Center for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control, said that the reason why the disease was increasing so rapidly had to do with the economic boom.

He said that large-scale migration and increased prostitution rates had to do with the increase in syphilis cases.

Hao Yang, of the Chinese Ministry of Health, said that there were officially about six million prostitutes in China. Experts say the number may be twice as high, however.

Although the Chinese government believes that it can stop syphilis from spreading by cracking down on prostitution, others disagree.

Jing Jun, a sociology professor with Tsinghua University, said that education was the best way to prevent and control the syphilis epidemic.

Experts said that, if the government instituted regional crackdowns on prostitution, sex workers would simply move to other regions of the country.

Syphilis, although easy to treat, is much more dangerous than gonorrhoea, harming the brains of sufferers and eventually leading to death.

Hao said that, while many people who have syphilis are asymptomatic, a shot of penicillin would be enough to treat them.

Hao said that the Chinese Ministry of Health now planned to include syphilis screening in routine check-ups.

Since at least one third of all homosexual men are also in heterosexual marriages, the risk of syphilis transmission is particularly high in Chinese society.


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