New Syphilis Cases Now Outnumber HIV Across Europe

NICE condom distribution guidelines. File photo dated 15/04/09 of a general view of condoms, which should be made more widely available to help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including being handed out for free to high risk groups, according to a health regulator. Issue date: Friday August …
Press Association via AP Images

A new report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has shown a dramatic increase in new cases of syphilis across Europe, outnumbering new cases of HIV.

The new ECDC report looked at the cases of syphilis reported across 30 countries between 2007 and 2017 and found the number of new cases had dramatically increased by 70 per cent since 2010 to a record 33,189, Sächsische Zeitung reports.

The Stockholm-based group noted that new cases of the sexually transmitted disease are now more common than HIV, stating that there were 25,353 new cases of HIV in 2017, down from more than 31,000 in 2016.

Head of the ECDC program for HIV and venereal diseases, Andrew Amato-Gauci, commented on the new figures saying, “The growth in the number of syphilis infections we see in Europe and other countries around the world is the result of several factors such as sex without a condom and with multiple sexual partners, combined with less fear of getting HIV.”

In several countries, including Britain, Germany, Iceland, and Ireland, the number of syphilis cases has more than doubled, with only two countries, Romania and Estonia, reporting a decline in new cases.

Men between the ages of 25 and 34 are the most prone to become infected with the disease, with the study citing homosexual men as being at particular risk.

The organisation Deutsche Aidshilfe attributes the increase in syphilis cases to a number of factors, including a decline in condom use due to improvements in HIV treatments along with symptoms of the disease sometimes taking weeks to appear, or not appearing at all.

Syphilis is not the only STD to see an increase in Europe. Last year, the Swedish Public Health Authority revealed that the country had seen a record-breaking rise in cases of gonorrhoea in 2017, reversing a trend that almost eliminated the disease.

Other diseases long thought either eradicated or completely foreign to Europe, have also seen increases in cases, largely due to the migrant crisis.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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