THERE has been a recent spike in new syphilis diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Queensland.

Queensland has had a consistent increase in new syphilis diagnoses among MSM over the past few years, but the recent sharp increase in 2015 has continued according to Queensland Health. If the current trajectory continues, there will be 952 new infections this year compared to 855 in 2015.

Cairns Hospital director of Sexual Health Associate Professor Darren Russell told the Star Observer that while condoms prevent HIV quite well, they do not work as effectively against syphilis and gonorrhoea as oral sex and other ways of transmission are very common.

“Intercourse is not necessary for catching syphilis, just skin-to-skin contact where the lesions are is enough to do it. That’s why it is so easy to pass it on,” he said.

Russell said although syphilis cases are rising and the infection is still responding well to penicillin, some strains of gonorrhoea are becoming more resistant.

“Just to make it clear, at the moment there are no untreatable gonorrhoea strains – just ones that are much more difficult to treat. Those strains have been found in Asia, Europe and North America so far,” he said.

“At the moment in Australia, these new strains of gonorrhoea are not a problem at all, but potentially in the future could be a big problem. Getting tested is the important message here.”

Queensland Syphilis cases spike over the last year

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