Syphilis is back, and that is very bad, the Department of Disease (DDC) control has warned.
The department – assigned to monitor the outbreak – believes the rising rate of syphilis, especially amongst citizens aged 15-24, reflects increasing rates of unsafe sex taking place among young adults.
The rate of syphilis infections has been gradually going up since 2013. Just last year, diagnosis increased by 36.9 percent among the age group in question, DDC director-general Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai said Tuesday, according to ThaiPBS.
Suwanchai also explained that, according to the data, citizens are becoming sexually active at a younger age (averaging about 13 to 15 years old) and that 30 percent of citizens surveyed did not use a condom during their first time.
This suggests teenagers remain unaware of the risks and dangers that come with unprotected sex.
“Many young people don’t fully understand that condoms can protect them from sexually transmitted diseases,” agrees Rosporn Kittiyaoman, the head of research and development at Bangrak Hispital’s STI center.
“From talking to many teenagers in this age group, I discovered that many associate STDs primiarly with sex workers. They don’t think they need to use protection if they’re not buying sexual services,” she told BBC Thailand in a recent interview.
And when symptoms like rashes do manifest, Rosporn observed that many teenagers don’t realize it is a sign of syphilis because they simply don’t have the knowledge. For example, most teens surveyed did not know that syphilis could be passed on to others during oral sex.
“Teenagers have to understand the importance of protection,” she said, adding that education is an essential long-term solution.
The latest case of infection to thrust the outbreak into the national spotlight involves a 14-year-old teenager, who was diagnosed with syphilis while pregnant with twins. Her partner was around the same age.
What is Syphilis
Syphilis is a common sexually transmitted infection spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be spread from an infected mother to her unborn baby.
Though syphilis is a serious ailment, it can be cured with medication. Without treatment, however, the infection can lead to serious complications and health problems like brain damage, paralysis, and blindness.
Syphilis causes sores on the original site of infection, usually around the genitals, mouth, anus or rectum though some patients don’t notice or feel the sores.
Preventative measures include always practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly,
For more information about syphilis, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.