Interventions and best practices to address increasing rates of syphilis transmission


Key take-home message
  • Infectious and congenital syphilis rates have seen a sharp growth in Canada since 2016. The COVID-19 pandemic impact on syphilis rates is undetermined: some studies have shown that there are observed decreases in syphilis rates, possibly due to reduced sexual activity due to lockdowns, while others have indicated that COVID-19 has had a limited impacted on syphilis rates.
  • Enhancing screening for syphilis with opt-out, emergency department, and routine screening has shown to increase testing rates, especially among men who have sex with men (9). Partner notification services and the use of disease intervention specialists has shown to be effective in minimizing syphilis transmission, though the number of reported anonymous partners continues to be a challenge in contacting exposed partners.
  • Ceftriaxone, doxycycline/tetracycline, and azithromycin are alternative treatments that have shown to be effective substitutes for penicillin.
  • Repeat prenatal screening has shown to reduce both maternal and congenital syphilis rates. Most congenital syphilis cases are detected and treated during screening in the first two trimesters. Among high-risk women, third trimester testing is recommended to reduce mother-to-child syphilis transmission.


The Ontario HIV Treatment Network: Rapid Response Service




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Testing
    • Testing
  • Co-infections
    • Syphilis


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