Syphilis infections in Europe
Excerpts from the ECDC surveillance report of 2012
Syphilis has been on the rise for the past ten years in a number of European countries. Major outbreaks have been recorded among professional sex-workers, migrants and heterosexual adults. The increase is predominant however among men who have sex with men (MSM).While many new syphilis cases since the 1990s have occurred in Central and Eastern Europe, no consistent trend throughout Europe has been observed to date.
The most recent syphilis prevalence report of the European Union is from 20121 and paints a very heterogeneous picture, reflecting widely varying notification rates. The lowest rates of syphilis – less than three cases per 100,000 inhabitants – were reported in Norway, Poland, Greece, Ireland, Sweden, Slovenia, Portugal, Iceland and Luxembourg.
Almost 60 percent of new cases were reported in Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Romania. The largest increase was seen in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and Malta. Lithuania, Romania and Denmark are among the countries with the most syphilis infections reported to date, with ten or more new infections per 100,000 inhabitants and year arising in these countries.
The risk of infection is highest among women and men between 25 and 34 years of age and lowest for adolescents under 24. Individuals who are more active are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behavior and to have sexual partners whose disease risk is unknown.
1) European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Sexually transmitted infections in Europe 1990–2010. Stockholm: ECDC, 2012