Safe sex call as STIS rise
NHS Lanarkshire has issued a syphilis warning following a rise in the number of cases diagnosed by its sexual health service.
The increase has been most marked in heterosexual men and women aged over 20, and in gay and bisexual men.
The health board has launched a festive public awareness social media campaign to promote safer sex and prevent further infections occurring and to encourage anyone who may have put themselves at risk to see their GP or attend a sexual health clinic in order to be assessed and tested.
Even though an increase in the number of cases of syphilis in 16-20 year olds has not been seen, the campaign will also target this group.
Dr John Logan, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health medicine, said: “The festive party season is often associated with an increase in risktaking sexual behaviour.
“Some people are not aware of the risk of syphilis or see it as an infection of the past.
“That’s not the case and with an increase in the number of people in Lanarkshire being diagnosed with syphilis, we feel it is important to highlight to people the risks of unprotected sex.
“Although the number of cases is relatively small – in Lanarkshire in 2017 there were 19 cases of heterosexually acquired syphilis and 48 cases in men who have sex with men – Lanarkshire residents, who make up about 12 per cent of the Scottish population, accounted for one third of the heterosexual cases in Scotland in 2017.
“We want people to be aware of what syphilis is, how it can be prevented and treated, and what the harmful longterm impact of untreated syphilis infection can be.”
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that affects both men and women and is passed on easily by unprotected sex.
For further information about syphilis and where to access sexual health clinics for testing, visit www. Lanarkshiresyphilis.org
Campaign Dr Anne Mclellan, Trish Tougher, Jacqueline Martin and Dr Logan