Tasmanians urged to be aware of syphilis as cases increase locally and nationally
Tasmanians are being reminded to consider their need for regular sexual health checks, to practice safe sex and to get tested for syphilis and treated as soon as possible if they have symptoms.
Cases of syphilis are increasing in Tasmania and elsewhere in Australia.
Syphilis is a curable infection that is spread from person-to-person through sexual activity. It can also be passed on to a baby during pregnancy, which can cause serious health problems if not treated promptly.
Initial symptoms of syphilis can be mild and include painless sores or ulcers on the genitals or mouth; a skin rash on the face, hands, or feet; fever, headache, muscle pain, and blurred vision. Some people with syphilis have no symptoms but can still pass the infection to others.
Without treatment, syphilis can cause long term complications such as nerve, brain and heart problems as well as blindness and mental health problems.
Director of Public Health, Dr Mark Veitch, said anyone who is sexually active can get syphilis.
“Syphilis isn’t a disease from the past – it’s here in Tasmania right now and can cause serious health problems if left untreated, especially for babies born to anyone infected during their pregnancy,” Dr Veitch said.
“With an increase in cases both nationally and in Tasmania, it’s important to do all you can to lower your risk.”
Consider their need for regular sexual health checks, either through their GP or through Sexual Health Services Tasmania
Know that safer sex practices, such as using condoms and water-based lubricant, or dams during oral sex, can reduce the risk of catching and spreading infections
Get tested and treated as soon as possible if symptoms develop
Know how important it is for anyone planning a pregnancy, or who might be pregnant, to have a simple blood test ensure they do not have syphilis.
“Testing and treatment for syphilis is easy and can be done through your GP, or through Sexual Health Services Tasmania,” Dr Veitch said.
“I’d also encourage Tasmanians to talk to their sexual partners about syphilis. This is not always easy but it’s an important part of keeping yourself and others safe from passing an STI on.”
For more information, visit the Syphilis page on the Department of Health website.