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Sunday, April 27, 2014
‘Significant’ Rise In Syphilis Cases in The Bahamas ...and other Caribbean countries
‘Significant’ Rise In Syphilis Cases
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
Nassau, The Bahamas
THE number of syphilis cases
among other reported instances of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
is on the rise in the Bahamas, said Ministry of Health officials
to Larry Ferguson, Coordinator of Sexually Transmitted Infections
(STIs) at the Ministry, the incidence of persons who contracted syphilis
since 2010 is concerning, especially among younger people.
to 2010 the older population, in some cases those up to 80 or
90-years-old, were the front runners in statistical data, Ms Ferguson
said. However, as more young people contract syphilis, healthcare
professionals believe there is substantial mixing in sexual activity
between both age categories.
Ferguson was not able to give the specific numbers of increase in
syphilis cases since 2010 but she insisted that there was no doubt that
the rise was significant. She said the same has been found in other
noted that the groups most at risk in recent times were men who have
sex with men (MSM’s) along with the unemployed and underemployed.
know that for the longest time,” Ms Ferguson said, “we have been seeing
chlamydia more than any other infection. But even though we are seeing a
large number of chlamydia more than any other infection chlamydia cases
are going down.
we are seeing an increase in syphilis. That is the one thing that we
are concerned about. What we find for syphilis, not specifically 15 to
24 age range even though they are included, is prior to this time we
always saw syphilis in our older population. Just now we are having
syphilis in that population which is a concern and tells us that there
is a mixing of the two.
persons who engage in transactional sex, they don’t call themselves
commercial sex workers, they just have sex for things. That group is at
high risk because quite often if you are going to have transactional sex
the other person might not want to use a condom. ‘You want the money, I
want the sex so you have to go on my terms’ and that’s one of the
reasons why they are at high risk.
who have sex with men, in many cases you have a group and they stay
amongst themselves. So if one has syphilis and is intermingling it is
more likely that it will spread. But with this group there are persons
in the group who take the initiative to ensure that other group members
get care and come for testing and necessary treatment.”
Ferguson was speaking to reporters during the Ministry of Health’s
first STD Awareness Symposium where scores of health professionals
gathered under the theme “Talk, Test, Treat”.
the rise in cases, the Ministry of Health runs ongoing awareness
programmes to sensitise the public of the risk factors involved with
unprotected sexual activity.