Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Epidemic of syphilis endangers Europe

Doctors are raising the alarm in Europe which is seeing an appalling rise in the incidence rates of syphilis, a dangerous sexually transmitted disease. Homosexuals and bisexuals top the list of high-risk groups.

Syphilis is a chronic sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, resulting in the formation of lesions throughout the body. The disease causes damage to the skin, mucous membrane, internal organs, major blood vessels, bones, muscles and the nervous system. Syphilis may also result in meningitis and imbecility. However, quite a few people are still completely unconcerned about the consequences of this terrible STD. Judging by today’s rise in syphilis cases, the attitude borders on recklessness.

The number of Germans infected with syphilis has nearly doubled in 2007, compared with the number of cases reported in 2001. According to data released by the Berlin-based Robert Koch Institute, the number of reported syphilis cases totaled 1,697 in the first half of 2001, whereas the number of reported syphilis cases rose to 3,147 in the first half of 2007.

In a report published by the Robert Koch Institute, scientists say that the increased reported incidence of syphilis is mostly due to carelessness and promiscuity, especially among men who have sex with men. The majority of those diagnosed with syphilis live in Berlin, which has 168 reported cases per 1,000,000 residents. Hamburg is a runner-up with 75 cases per 1,000,000 residents.

Syphilis must be treated in a timely and proper fashion; otherwise it will become a chronic problem, causing serous damage to the body of the sufferer for years or even decades. These days treatment with antibiotics is fully effective if administered in the early weeks of the infection. However, one should bear in mind that the infection can adjust itself to medications, thus proving to be more resistant to drugs which yielded good results in the past.

Homosexuals remain the major high-risk group in terms of incidence rates and spread of syphilis. An estimated 73 percent of syphilis cases are currently diagnosed among men who have unsafe sex with men. Besides, the risk of infection is 200-300 times higher among homosexuals than it is among heterosexuals.

Syphilis mostly affects heterosexuals who are either prostitutes or drug addicts. Patrons of sex clubs for swingers constitute another high-risk group. Immigrants from Eastern Europe where syphilis incidence is significantly higher pose a particular threat. The scientists emphasize that bisexual men who infect women with syphilis are the prime carriers of this dangerous disease, which is thus transmitted to others.

Translated by Guerman Grachev