ALERT ISSUED BY: The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Infectious Syphilis on the Increase in Ontario

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has informed us of a recent increase in infectious syphilis (Treponema Pallidum) cases in Ontario. 

The Ministry has identified the following trends through analysis of provincial data:

  • More than half (18 out of 36) public health units in Ontario have reported increases in infectious syphilis cases during the first 8 months of 2009 as compared to 2008.
  • The increase in cases is occurring predominantly within the male population.
  • Of reported male cases with risk factor information available, 85% identify as men who have sex with men (MSM - includes gay and bi men).
  • The largest number of cases occur among males aged 40 to 44 years, and the largest increase in recent cases is seen in males between the ages of 15 to 34.
  • 45% of cases are reported to be co-infected with HIV.
  • In Toronto, most (97%) of infectious syphilis cases have been among men. Over 80% of these have been among gay and bisexual men. And, almost 1/2 of cases in 2012 were among men who were also HIV-positive.
  • Syphilis rates among M2M in Durham region are among the highest in Ontario.

Therefore, men who have sex with men (MSM - includes gay and bi men) with the following risk factors should be made aware of the increase in infectious syphilis cases, advised to speak with their doctor or sexual health clinic and get tested:

  • Having had unprotected oral or anal sex.
  • Having a history of syphilis infection, HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STI's).
  • Having multiple sex partners or a partner with multiple sex partners, within the last year.

Accurate diagnosis and treatment of syphilis requires clinical evaluation, and is supported by laboratory data. Syphilis treatment recommendations are based on the staging of the disease. Timely staging and treatment diminishes the risk of long-term negative outcomes and further infectious syphilis transmission.

For more detailed information on Syphilis CLICK HERE.

For information on Durham Region Sexual Health Clinics CLICK HERE