The rate of syphilis infection among Thai teens and young adults is rising at an alarming rate, says the Department of Disease Control (DDC).
The DDC issued the warning in response to a report published on Bangrak STIs Centre’s Facebook page. It is run by Bangkok’s Bangrak Hospital, which specialises in treating sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
The director-general of the DDC, Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, said the rising rate of syphilis infections reflects the increasing prevalence of unsafe sex practices, which heightens the risk of contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
“Our data shows that 36.9% of new syphilis infections recorded last year were found among those aged between 15 to 24,” said Dr Suwanchai.
He said the increasing prevalence of syphilis can be attributed to the lack of awareness of safe sex practices — especially among Thai youths.
“People are becoming more sexually active at a much younger age, and about 30% of those surveyed by the DDC admitted to not using condoms,” he said.
Syphilis causes genital sores and/or skin rashes, but in several cases, symptoms may remain dormant for years until the disease progresses to other organs — including the brain, heart, and blood vessels.
Syphilis can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her unborn baby, he said.
Unlike HIV, syphilis is curable, but follow-up blood tests are recommended after treatments to ensure the disease has cleared the system.