Syphilis is a chronic sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a spirochete, Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. Syphilis infection can evolve to tertiary stages that affect all organs of the body. Additionally, syphilis can be transmitted from mother to fetus, resulting in congenital syphilis. Laboratory tests for the diagnosis of syphilis are rapid, inexpensive and simple and have high sensitivity and specificity. Syphilis treatment is effective and can be administered at all stages of life. However, the prevalence of syphilis has increased in the 21st century. The main increase has been among men who have sex with men (MSM) who have unsafe sex with multiple sexual partners. In addition, new methods of contacting sexual partners are appearing, such as saunas, bars and the Internet. Interventions aimed at curable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are cost-effective; therefore, prenatal screening programs for syphilis are necessary to prevent congenital syphilis. Improved education initiatives concerning sexual and reproductive health, both in the general population and among healthcare workers, and systematic screening for syphilis can halt the increasing trend in the prevalence of this infection.
Keywords: Epidemiology, HIV, men who have sex with men, sexual health, sexually transmitted infection, Treponema pallidum, Syphilis, prenatal screening programs, sexual and reproductive health, blood transfusion