Current trends indicate increased sexually
transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBI) across province.
Since 2012, Winnipeg has been hit by an outbreak of syphilis, initially among men having sex with other men (MSM).This group remains at high risk, but syphilis has moved into heterosexual networks and is currently most common among women and their male partners.
We recommend that health care providers test sexually-active women who have sex with men, especially if they are seeking testing for other sexually-transmitted infections. Syphilis infection has been reported among women in most neighbourhoods, but with higher counts in the Downtown and Point Douglas areas. There have been cases of congenital syphilis in Winnipeg. Syphilis can be very harmful in children born to syphilis-infected mothers. Testing throughout pregnancy is very important for those at ongoing risk.
We still recommend testing for men who have sex with casual or anonymous male partners every 3 months. Encouragingly, since starting more frequent testing of MSM, rates amongst MSM have not increased in the last 12 months, but they remain higher than 2012.
Syphilis is more contagious than HIV, and can spread through all kinds of sex. It is also easy to spread because the symptoms are sometimes hard to identify, including painless sores inside the vagina, rectum, and/or mouth. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to get tested and treated.
If you are testing for syphilis, we recommend to test for all other STBBIs.
Explore this site for more information.
If you are a health care provider, or would like more information on syphilis epidemiology and management, click here.