Major grant to tackle rise of syphilis
Researchers at Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC) have been granted more than $1.25 million by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to develop new strategies for detecting and controlling syphilis.
Professor Marcus Chen will lead the research, and said rates of syphilis have climbed dramatically in most high income countries including Australia, with heterosexual populations increasingly affected for the first time in decades.
“Existing approaches to syphilis control are failing, and new, more effective measures are urgently required,” Professor Chen said.
“This project will allow us to build on previous strategies we’ve discovered at MSHC to improve detection and control of syphilis. Our research suggests earlier detection and treatment of syphilis is needed to reduce infectiousness and improve control. We plan to develop and evaluate new strategies that increase syphilis testing in general practice and antenatal services. We will also do further research on oral shedding of syphilis and its role in transmission.
"By the end of the grant we hope routine genomic testing of syphilis samples can help us understand and target syphilis outbreaks.”
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is curable, but if left untreated can lead to significant health issues. In pregnant women, syphilis can cause miscarriage, serious birth defects in the baby and stillbirth.
The research project will commence in May 2021 and is funded for five years.