24 March 2016

Nigeria: Borno State Has Highest Rate of Syphilis - Expert

The Head of Prevention, Department of Public Health and HIV/AIDS Division, Ministry of Health, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, has disclosed that recent findings from a national survey on serial prevalence of Syphilis in the country indicates that Borno State remains the state with highest cases of Syphilis.

The findings, according to him, revealed that the rate of syphilis nationwide as at 2005 was 1.5 per cent and dropped to 0.7 per cent in 2014.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the Treponema Pallidum spirochete. The route of transmission is almost always by sexual contact, although there maybe congenital syphilis via transmission from mother to child in-utero.

Anyaike, who disclosed this at the launch of HIV/Syphilis Duo Rapid Test by Alere Healthcare Services in Abuja, maintained that similar survey was last carried out in 2005 and the success recorded in terms of prevention interventions in HIV response maybe responsible for the reduction in the prevalence of Syphilis, because, "HIV and syphilis almost run hand in hand in terms of mode of transmission."

According to him, "we had a national survey on serial prevalence of Syphilis in the country and in 2005, it was 1.5 per cent until 2014, the prevalence rate dropped to 0.7 per cent nationally, nine years after. But, when you try to look at it in states level, you will see that it could be higher than 0.7 per cent prevalence.

"The 0.7 per cent syphilis prevalence nationally doesn't mean that is the prevalence rate everywhere in the country. We have regional and state variations. In fact, we have some states that their prevalence is zero per cent findings. Borno seems to have the highest in terms of prevalence according to states."

He further explained that, though, there were some states with low prevalence rate, it was important for programmers to have a target prevention strategies to help reduce the level or prevalence of syphilis in those areas.

"The findings also revealed that the trend could be higher than 0.7 per cent because, HIV/Syphilis has a lot of drivers. If you have an unprotected sex, it's possible that it could lead to HIV/Syphilis infections."

Dr. Anyaike, when asked if the security challenges in those areas could be the major factor that led to the increase of syphilis in Borno State, he said that may not have caused it.

"We need to be scientific in our judgement or conclusions. We can't link that with the security situations. However, one could allude that. But, scientifically, we have to prove that it could be possible that the security challenges in that region prevented the people from having access to medical treatment.

He stressed that government's efforts alone cannot solve every problem, adding that, government at various levels were doing their best in terms of medical health interventions in the country.

STI has a lot to do with attitudinal linkages. Government could give you prevention or barrier materials to use and you may refuse to use it. You won't say it is government that got you exposed to Syphilis. It is an individual something. You could be in a state where there are no security challenges and you keep risky behaviours, as this would exposed you to being infected.


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