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Sunday 16th June 2019

Teen syphilis threat

14th November 2011

Doctors have warned that syphilis is on the increase among heterosexual teenagers in Britain.


Areas such as Scotland, Hampshire and Teesside have all reported cases of the sexually transmitted disease in teenagers.

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV said it was likely that more people had syphilis but the condition had not been diagnosed or reported.

Cases of the disease have increased in the last 20 years for homosexual men, but cases of syphilis in young heterosexuals is a more recent development.

Peter Greenhouse, a sexual health consultant based in Bristol who is a spokesman for the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (Bashh), said they had not expected to see cases in teenagers.

"Any outbreak of syphilis among young people, among teenagers is unexpected. Syphilis shouldn't be happening in those groups and we really don't know why it's there. So if we can see a small number of outbreaks in a small number of young people it means there must be others going on as well."

Syphilis can be fatal and can cause stroke, heart disease and dementia, while increasing the risk of becoming HIV.

Dr Patrick French, a consultant in Genito Urinary Medicine in London said: "The worry is that if syphilis gets into the wider sexually active population of young people it could then become a common and endemic infection."

"Before syphilis became unusual in the UK in the 1980s it was a major cause of ill health and that's no longer the case. So it's a very important infection to try and prevent."


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