LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2023 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 95-96
Syphilis resurgence: Exploring the impact of COVID-19 pandemic
Tejinder Kaur, Mohita Mahajan, BB Mahajan
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Government Medical College, Amritsar, Punjab, India
|Date of Submission||10-Feb-2022|
|Date of Decision||10-Oct-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||22-Oct-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||09-Dec-2022|
Dr. B B Mahajan
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Government Medical College, 443, B-Block, Amritsar, Punjab
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Kaur T, Mahajan M, Mahajan B B. Syphilis resurgence: Exploring the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2023;44:95-6
|How to cite this URL:|
Kaur T, Mahajan M, Mahajan B B. Syphilis resurgence: Exploring the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Sex Transm Dis [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Sep 30];44:95-6. Available from: https://ijstd.org/text.asp?2023/44/1/95/363115
Syphilis is an infectious disease caused by Treponema pallidum. Various host factors like high-risk sexual activity, migration, and travel contribute to the re-emergence and spread of syphilis. During the COVID pandemic, the patient's referral to sexually transmitted infection clinic for diagnosis and laboratory testing might have been affected. Hence, this study was carried out to give an insight into the changing trends of syphilis during the pre-COVID and COVID-19 pandemic in a tertiary care hospital of North India.
This retrospective study was conducted over 3 years divided as during the pre-COVID-19 era (September 2018February 2020; Group 1) and COVID-19 era (March 2020August 2021; Group 2) in a tertiary care institute. Only confirmed cases, that is, seropositive by both Venereal Disease Research Laboratory and Treponema pallidum hemagglutination, were included.
[Table 1] depicts the sociodemographic profile of 91 patients. In Group 1, the total number of patients was 41 and they belonged to rural background (58.5%), whereas in Group 2, the total number was 50 and the majority belonged to urban background (54%). In Group 1, one patient had primary syphilis and two had secondary syphilis. In Group 2, one patient had primary syphilis and four had secondary syphilis. The rest all the patients in both the groups presented with latent phase syphilis: in Group 1, 38 patients and in Group 2, 45 patients.
In our study, urban predominance was seen during the COVID-19 era. The improved familiarity and availability of Internet, coupled with increased time spent alone, might have induced people to seek sex online in the “surface” and “dark” web. Sexually associated transmission of COVID-19 has been postulated, as a result of person-to-person proximity and coupling with contact with body fluids. Data from Madrid and Rome suggest a strong decrease in sexually transmitted diseases and syphilis during the lockdown, as a consequence of social isolation and closure of leisure venues, which reduced the opportunity for casual sexual encounters., In a study done by Bonato et al. during the COVID pandemic, despite the lockdown and fear for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection, risky sexual activity had not diminished, and there was a steady state of syphilis contagiousness even during the pandemic. In our study, there was a slight increase in the number of newly diagnosed cases of syphilis during the COVID pandemic as compared to the pre-COVID era of the same duration (i.e. about 18 months), but it was not statistically significant. A rising trend of seroprevalence, though not statistically significant, was observed in pregnant women. Furthermore, there was no statistically significant differences for the age, gender, residence, marital status, or the stage of disease. Most of the patients in our study in both the groups were asymptomatic and had come for voluntary checkup (including emigrants and pregnant females for routine antenatal checkup) and can be due to increased awareness among the young. Nevertheless, the observation of increasing trends in certain vulnerable population such as HIV patients and pregnant women calls for continued and sustained efforts for case detection, treatment, and other preventive measures to contain the disease.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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