Deadly disease spreads in Austria

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The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported a worldwide increase in syphilis. The disease is also spreading in Austria.

The WHO has published alarming data showing a significant increase in syphilis cases worldwide. This increase affects both industrialized and developing countries. The reasons for this increase include the rise in international travel, a decline in the use of condoms, and insufficient education about sexually transmitted infections.

There is, therefore, a need for increased awareness and preventative measures to curb this sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to Aids Hilfe Wien. As a health organization, Aids Hilfe Wien explains what syphilis is, how it is transmitted, what protective measures can be taken, and where you can get tested.
Mirijam Hall, Chairwoman of Aids Hilfe Wien: “It is important to have sexually transmitted infections and sexual health on our radar. So let’s talk about it because the rise in infectious diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia is also an issue in Austria.”

He continues: “Through the use of condoms, regular testing, and open communication, together we can help stop the spread of syphilis. We therefore call for testing and treatment services for STIs to be made easily accessible in order to promote early detection and prevention.”

Hall emphasizes that early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious health consequences and stop the spread of the infection. There are numerous testing options available in Austria that enable early detection and treatment.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium “Treponema pallidum”. The disease progresses in several stages and can cause serious health complications if left untreated.

According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), there were around 7 million new syphilis infections worldwide in 2020. According to the latest ECDC reports, reported cases increased significantly in 2022 compared to the previous year, with gonorrhea cases increasing by 48%, syphilis by 34%, and chlamydia by 16%.

Over 35,000 cases of syphilis were recorded in the EU in 2019, with the majority of those affected being men. People with frequently changing sexual partners, men who have sex with men (MSM) and HIV-positive people have an increased risk of contracting syphilis. Repeated infections are also not uncommon.

Syphilis is mainly transmitted through sexual contact. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex. The bacterium can be transmitted through tiny skin or mucous membrane lesions.

  1. Condom use: condoms provide effective protection against syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections when used correctly and consistently.
  2. Regular testing: People with multiple sexual partners or those who belong to a risk group should be tested regularly for syphilis and other STIs. Tests are offered by general practitioners, specialized clinics, and health centers. Aids Hilfe Wien also offers anonymous tests for syphilis and other STIs.
  1. Education and communication: Open and honest communication with sexual partners about sexual health and test results can help to minimize the risk of infection. You can find more information on the topic of sexual health at www.lustaufreden.at. The campaign of the same name by Aids Hilfe Wien is running until the end of the year and explains why it is important to talk about sexual health and who you can actually turn to if you need to.

Tip: In addition to the year-round testing opportunities at Aids Hilfe Haus Wien, Aids Hilfe Wien also offers free HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis tests and advice on June 6 and 7 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. (last acceptance: 7.30 p.m.) at the Pride Village on Rathausplatz.

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