A surge in syphilis cases among gay and bisexual men is now also being reported in the Auckland region. Following a rise in Hamilton, the number of syphilis cases in Auckland has increased approximately 70 per cent when compared to the previous year, with a large number of those cases being reported in the last couple of months. Syphilis is an STI that can cause long-term complications if not treated promptly. If a person has syphilis, they are also more likely to get HIV, so the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) says it is vital to continue to use condoms and to get tested regularly. The NZAF and Auckland Sexual Health Services urge sexually active gay and bisexual men in the Auckland area to get a free test. Free tests are available at NZAF Burnett Centre or Auckland Sexual Health Services. Syphilis tests can also be requested from a GP. About syphilis Syphilis is called ‘the great imitator’ because it has so many possible symptoms, many of which look like symptoms of other diseases. It can also have no symptoms at all in up to 50 per cent of cases. Gay and bisexual men can get syphilis by direct contact with syphilis sores during anal, vaginal or oral sex. The sores may be on the penis, anus, in the rectum, on the lips or in the mouth. However people without obvious sores may still pass the infection on during sexual contact. The first sign is a painless syphilis sore but this can easily be confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or another seemingly harmless bump, which can easily go unnoticed. The sore lasts three to six weeks and heals regardless of whether or not you receive treatment. The non-itchy body rash that develops next can show up on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, all over your body or in just a few places. Even if you have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, you can still be infected and therefore infect others. Book a free test at the NZAF Burnett Centre by calling 09 309 5560.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Wednesday, 3rd December 2014 - 12:15pm
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