New Zealand is in the midst of syphilis crisis, and the disease has turned deadly in some cases. It’s because of these deaths that the crisis is hitting home.
an infection that originates as an ulcer somewhere on the body such
as the genital region. Untreated syphilis can lead to heart, spinal
cord or brain damage. For those who think, no big deal – well, it
is extremely harmful to everybody including pregnant women who have
undetected syphilis. The disease can spread to the unborn child,
leading to major complications and even stillbirths.
infection is spread through unprotected sex – oral, anal and
vaginal – with an infected partner. If having sex with an infected
partner or with someone unknown, it’s imperative to use condoms. It
can also be spread by getting close to someone with active sores.
Again, a pregnant woman can spread it to her unborn child.
the first stage, an infected person will get a painless ulcer known
as chancre, typically on the vagina, anus, penis and balls. Since it
is painless, most people don’t typically notice or think there’s
nothing to be concerned with. However, the second stage can lead to
rashes, usually on your hands and feet. You may also experience other
symptoms like headaches, hair loss, weight loss, sore throat and
fever. In the third (latent) stage, it can lead to little or no
symptoms. In the final stage, it can cause heart problems,
neurological problems and soft, non-cancerous growths.
is treatable at every stage.
a course of antibiotics, you can treat your condition. However, to
stop spreading it, you must inform all your partners to have them
tested. Sexual activity should wait until the treatment is over.
should be concerned about this disease, as it can lead to unwarranted
infant deaths and unnecessary spread of the infection. If a woman is
pregnant, she should be tested for the disease. Any person who is
sexually active and has not used a condom is also encouraged to get
a simple blood test, a person can learn if they have the disease and
then be prescribed antibiotics.
best thing people can do to protect themselves in to use condoms any
time they have sex. However, it’s also important to consider the
bigger picture such as why there is a syphilis outbreak. What kind of
impact is the funding cuts having on sexual health services across
the nation and world?
wards are short-staffed, which means many women have no material care
and are coming to hospitals to deliver babies without seeing a
midwife their entire pregnancy.
to Waikato DHB’s Hamilton Sexual Health Clinical Director Dr. Jane
Morgan, it’s frightening the number of congenital syphilis cases
there are in New Zealand.
She said the World Health Organization awarded Cuba with their ability to eliminate congenital syphilis while New Zealand seems to be reintroducing it. She said it’s heartbreaking and difficult to understand why it’s happening.
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