In the last two weeks we have seen 6 cases of syphilis, ranging from primary to tertiary stages with the seventh to be seen this coming Monday. In any other year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we see about 6 cases in a year. The initial concern was people on PrEP for HIV prophylaxis may not be adhering to continuing the practices of safe sex while being on PrEP which has been discussed before in the blog. At this time there is only one of the patients asking about PrEP once his HIV status is known.
The makeup of sexual preferences did not seem to have any bearing on what is being seen. They consist of heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals. Only one of the patients admitted that they were in a committed relationship.
Unfortunately, it appears that this rise in syphilis is just another causality of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since this prolonged lockdown, there has been an increase in suicides, substance and domestic abuse, plus depression. The lockdown has taken a huge emotional toll on people causing an increase in anxiety. One dentist has seen an increase in cracked teeth because people are continually clinching their teeth. Interestingly, enough the number of cracked teeth continues to increase as the lockdown continues.
Could it be that the emotional toll is now finding people becoming more cavalier about sexual encounters because of anxiety and depression? Or is it because the lockdown itself has led to a false sense of security? In other words, if social distancing is preventing us from getting Covid-19 then it could do the same for other diseases. It’s too early to tell.
Regardless of the reason. Please be vigilant and if you find yourself in such a situation, please insist on using a condom.