Guangdong unveils program to battle syphilis
Updated: 2012-09-28 08:01
By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou (China Daily)
The Guangdong provincial Health Department has announced a nine-year plan to fight its rapidly rising cases of syphilis.
According to the Proposals to Prevent and Cure Syphilis in Guangdong Province (2012-20), the province will increase examinations for the sexually transmitted disease in the following years, to bring it under control by 2015 and have the number of cases decline by 2020.
The syphilis examinations will target mainly sex workers, gay men, drug addicts and others who have a high risk of contracting the disease, according to the proposals published on the department's official website on Wednesday.
The proposals were announced as Guangdong has witnessed an annual growth of 15 to 20 percent in syphilis cases in eight successive years.
Experts have attributed the quick rise of syphilis in Guangdong to residents' poor awareness about preventing syphilis and related skin diseases; those events with multiple sexual partners; and the growing transient population.
Meanwhile, the low use of condoms among elderly residents has also resulted in the growth of syphilis cases.
The province detected a total of 35,217 syphilis patients in the first eight months this year, an increase of 10.7 percent compared with the 31,808 cases in the same period the previous year.
Guangdong reported 40,410 syphilis cases in 2010. But the figure increased to 46,742 in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 15.7 percent. The number of cases also was 11.8 percent of the country's total.
With the rapid rise in the number of syphilis patients, Guangdong has become a big province in term of syphilis on the Chinese mainland, said sources with the Guangdong provincial prevention and control center for sexually transmitted diseases.
"The wide spread of syphilis has become a serious public health problem that is threatening locals' health in Guangdong," said an official with the center who declined to be named.
Syphilis transmits mainly through sexual activities and blood, as well as from mother to fetus. Statistics from the provincial center for prevention and control of sexually transmitted diseases revealed that 25 to 30 percent of sexual workers in some low-grade entertainment venues have been detected with syphilis, while cases of syphilis have also reached 6 to 28 percent of gay men.
Meanwhile, sample examinations have found the presence of syphilis among women of childbearing age stood at 0.3 to 0.5 percent, which means that 3 to 5 out of 1,000 women that age have been detected with syphilis, authorities said.
Most of the syphilis patients are 20 to 45 years old, or above 60 years old. They are mainly in the prosperous cities of Dongguan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Jiangmen and Zhongshan in the Pearl River Delta region, which borders Hong Kong and Macao.
Chen Jianhao, a senior dermatologist from Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, affiliated with Sun Yat-sen University, advised sex workers, drug addicts, gay men and those who usually have more than one sexual partner to have syphilis examinations regularly.
"Most of the syphilis cases detected in Guangdong belong to recessive syphilis, which does even greater harm to people's health," Chen told local media.
"The recessive syphilis patients do not have any symptoms at the beginning, and only blood testing can detect the syphilis virus," he said.
"Syphilis can be prevented and cured, and the treatment is not very expensive," he said.
He added that a good way to cure syphilis is early examination, early diagnosis and early treatment.
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