Syphilis and Al Capone: The Disease That Took Down the Most Notorious Crime Boss

Syphilis and Al Capone: The Disease That Took Down the Most Notorious Crime Boss Image

But, this time, with a peculiar and a more interesting perspective. 

With the latest release Fonzo, starring Tom Hardy as Al Capone, we get to see the Chicago crime boss and his final battle with syphilis. The once-formidable man is psychologically scarred at an early age from a disease he was too ashamed to admit he had. He died at 48 years of age in 1947. 

Josh Trank, the director of the movie, called it an “impressionistic film”, capable of becoming a 20th-century icon. 

But, like any other movie plots, the stories can get exaggerated. The question is, did syphilis scar Capone’s mental health for good? How did it really affect him? Here, we will shed some light on the portrayal of syphilis in Al Capone based on the Fonzo movie. 

How Did Al Capone Contract Syphilis?

The crime boss was married to Mae, played by Linda Cardellini. However, he continued having multiple affairs while he dabbled in organized crime. But, he didn’t contract the disease in his adulthood. On the contrary, he got it when he was much younger. Capone contracted the infection as a teen, probably from a sex worker while he still lived in Brooklyn. 

Did Al Capone Get Treatment for Syphilis?

There are many rumors and speculations about what happened to Al Capone. Some are saying he developed a particular phobia of needles, which is why he didn’t get treatment. But, according to an Al Capone biography by Deirdre Bair, that’s just a myth.

What we do know is that Capone kept his condition hidden until he was diagnosed in prison. The movie starts by focusing on his deteriorated mental health and the symptoms he experienced in prison.

Did Syphilis Really Take a Toll on Al Capone?

When penicillin was discovered back in 1928, syphilis was an easily treatable infection. But, before the drug was identified, the disease was the most painful and foul infection to deal with. Al Capone was born in 1899. He contracted the infection before treatment became available.

Back then, syphilis was marked in three separate stages. The first one was characterized by developing a chancre in the infected area.  The second stage was marked by the symptoms of the flu and rash. Then, for minorities, the disease could re-appear decades after the patient was infected and cause serious brain damage and even death. 

This is exactly what happened to the crime boss. Despite the millions of dollars in his pockets, Capone’s life was hardly easy. Syphilis destroyed his emotional and physical well-being. 

His condition worsened over time while in prison, eventually crumbling his overall health completely. He developed neurosyphilis, which affected his central nervous system and ensured his early prison release.

Even though the infection served as a free “getaway” card, it rendered his heart weak causing heart failure and death.

References

https://books.google.mk/books/about/Al_Capone.html?id=WXJ_CwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y

https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/movies/2020/05/12/capone-fact-check-true-story-tom-hardy-gangster-movie/3113181001/

https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a32439185/al-capone-dementia-syphilis-treasure-true-story/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/infectious-disease-sprung-al-capone-alcatraz

An Unexpected Rise in New Syphilis Cases Has Been Reported in Saskatchewan

An Unexpected Rise in New Syphilis Cases Has Been Reported in Saskatchewan Image

Syphilis is one of the four most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the world. Nearly 6 million new cases of syphilis have been reported each year globally among people aged 15 to 49 years. Since the discovery of penicillin, both, the treatment and the prevention of syphilis have been made easier. However, because of how easy it is for this infection to spread – through oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as passing the infection from an infected mother to her baby, we are still faced with a large number of new STD cases. 

Still, it always comes as a surprise to us to see several new syphilis cases that have almost tripled, as it is the case with Saskatchewan, a small providence in Canada. Recently, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has made public the number of syphilis cases registered between the first quarter of 2019 and 2020. 

What it came as a surprise to both the authority and the public is to learn that the number has almost tripled between these periods. In January, February, and March 2019, there has been a total of 58 new cases of syphilis. The shocking revelation of 158 new cases of syphilis during these same months the following year, in 2020, speaks for itself. 

Understandably, the authorities have been quite concerned with this new information since syphilis can be quite dangerous and cause damage to multiple body organs such as the eyes, brain, and heart. The authorities alert anyone who has been engaging in risky behavior, has multiple sexual partners, or is a sex worker, to protect them accordingly against this and any other STD that can potentially end their lives if not put under control.

The authorities also go on to explain the potential reason as to why there has been an increase in new syphilis cases in the Saskatchewan providence. They have been aware of a similar increase in new syphilis cases in the surrounding northwest and northeast areas of the providence, as well as in the cities of Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert. They suspect these events as a potential explanation for the new rise in their providence.

They have announced a decline in chlamydia and gonorrhea cases, however, they do suspect that could be the result of the current COVID-19 outbreak. Like in most countries that have been hit hard by the pandemic, Canada as well has been faced with a suddenly unavailable routine testing due to COVID-19 lockdown.

They are eager, however, to use this time that they have right now to come up with a new strategy that is supposed to help them reduce the overall number of STD cases. Making routine testing available again is the priority number one as well as raising awareness and educating people on how to properly protect themselves. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6089383/

https://www.ehealthsask.ca/services/manuals/Documents/cdc-section-5.pdf

The Use of Dual HIV/Syphilis Tests during Pregnancy

Risk Factors for a Syphilis Infection Among Pregnant Women in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, Ghana Image

Proper HIV and syphilis testing, as well as testing for any other STD, is important over each life period, but it earns a specific significance during the pregnancy period, especially when we are talking about HIV and syphilis that pose the risk of being transmitted from an infected mother to her baby. With the new guidelines determined by WHO (World Health Organization) for dual HIV/syphilis testing, we have found a new hope to see an improvement in the HIV and syphilis cases around the world, with a special focus on Africa. 

How can the use of dual HIV/Syphilis tests help support a healthy pregnancy?

HIV and syphilis are two highly dangerous sexually transmitted diseases during the nine months of pregnancy, not only because of their difficult symptoms but also because of the high risk of HIV and syphilis being transmitted from the infected mother to her child that is still growing and developing inside her womb. Unfortunately, HIV and syphilis are still quite common among pregnant women, especially among those living in Africa, which is one of the centuries where the highest population infected with HIV/syphilis has been living in the past couple of years. A study investigated the HIV prevalence by involving approximately 10,000 pregnant women and showed that of all, around 3% of them became infected with HIV during the course of their pregnancy.  

Left untreated and undetected, HIV and syphilis can lead to a number of health issues not only during pregnancy but also during childbirth as well. Transmitting HIV and/or syphilis is not the only health issue that we are talking about. These infections can lead to low birth weight, stillbirth, spontaneous abortus, and many other potential health risks as well.

Luckily, all pregnant women are supposed to undergo proper HIV testing at their first visit at their doctor’s office, as well as throughout the next nine months. When detected in its early stages, HIV can be efficiently controlled and treated, although not cured, so that the negative effect on the little one can be as minimalized as possible. With the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), the risk of transmitting the disease during pregnancy, and later during childbirth and breastfeeding, can be significantly reduced, which will have a positive influence on both the health of the mother and the child.

But things are a bit different when it comes to testing for syphilis during pregnancy. While 60% of the pregnant women across Africa have been tested for HIV, less than 40% of them have been tested for syphilis. A study published in 2019 also revealed that 4% of all pregnant women had not been tested for HIV nor syphilis. Syphilis also poses great threats left untreated, which is why it is of vital importance that every pregnant woman gets tested for both HIV and syphilis at least once during her pregnancy, as WHO (World Health Organization) suggests.

The WHO has come to suggest a rather effective method that is thought to improve the numbers of cases in which proper testing for both HIV and syphilis has been done. The method that they recommend is a dual HIV/syphilis test that will be introduced as a part of the regular antenatal care for each pregnant woman. 

By introducing dual testing, WHO suggests that the cost of testing will decline while the number of women that are getting tested and potentially treated when needed, will be increasing, which is just the effect that we have been looking for so long now.

This can be especially beneficial for high burden countries such as Africa in which expenses play a big part in maintaining the good health of its population. With the reduced expenses rate, it will be more affordable to offer more and more women to get properly tested during their pregnancy.

Conclusion

With the new dual testing for HIV and syphilis suggested by the WHO, we are looking at a potential decline in new cases of HIV and syphilis in the future. This testing method for HIV/Syphilis will be of a high value for pregnant women since they are facing the risk of transmitting the infection to their child and with that struggling with devastating complications and a potential spread of the initial infection. 

References

http://www.aidsmap.com/news/jun-2015/many-south-african-women-become-infected-hiv-during-pregnancy-posing-high-risk

http://www.ncsddc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/ncs_366_third_trimester_screening_brochure_page_by_page_mechanical_12-28-16.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51254011_Optimal_time_on_HAART_for_prevention_of_mother-to-child_transmission_of_HIV

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02454816

Syphilis Rates Are A Major Concern for Women to Start Seeking Antenatal Care in Ghana

Syphilis Rates Are A Major Concern for Women to Start Seeking Antenatal Care in Ghana Image

If a mother is infected with STIs, she risks transmitting the infection onto the unborn child. If not treated, women risk a miscarriage, birth defects, early delivery, stillbirth, illnesses, disabilities, or even death of a newborn.

Antenatal care, commonly referred to as prenatal care is a healthcare preventive that focuses on consistent check-ups by allowing midwives or doctors to prevent and treat any health complications to ensure a safe pregnancy.

Even though there is an available and effective treatment for anyone with STIs, particularly syphilis, more than 10 million people are still infected with this infection across the globe. 90% of all cases of newly infected come from developing countries, especially Ghana.

The Prevalence of Syphilis and the Need for Antenatal Care in Ghana

In Africa, based on records from 2012, the prevalence of syphilis was recoded to be at 0.2%, with Ghana being among one of the most infected with a prevalence of 8.5% in the metropolis, 4.5% in Kumasi and 3.9% in Accra. 

Based on the World Bank’s statistical analysis from 2015, the prevalence of syphilis of women attending prenatal care has increased by 1.2% from 2012 and is stated to be at 2.7% in 2015. Compared to the reported 6.1% in 2009, this is a drastic decline. 

How Many Women in Ghana Actually Seek Antenatal Care?

Screening and treating pregnant women for a syphilis infection has long been the main focus for doctors. In an effort to stop the transmission of the infection, women have been advised to receive antenatal care. 

Based on a survey for the reproductive and sexual health in Ghana, particularly in Accra, of all the women interviewed, 23% reported having or recognizing STI or UTI infections. But only 7% stated seeking preventive care. Due to the low interest in antenatal care, only 53% of Ghanaian women receive proper care during childbirth by a skilled medical professional. 

Why Don’t Some Women Get Proper Antenatal Care in Ghana?

Pregnant women in Ghana often face multiple difficulties when it comes to seeking antenatal care. For many women, this is a controversial treatment. Due to cultural limitations and distrust in modernized medicine, women still give birth at home.

But, for those who do want to gain access to antenatal care, they experience multiple issues, some of which are: 

  • Insufficient funds
  • Lack of a female treatment provider
  • No permission to get treatment

In Q5 of 2015, 22.7% of women stated they needed more money to receive this treatment, and without an adequate income, these women couldn’t receive the antenatal care they needed. 

Another issue was the gender of the treatment provider and permission to get treatment. 19.5% of all pregnant women in Ghana didn’t want to be treated by male treatment providers and preferred females instead, while 4.1% didn’t get permission.

Despite the efforts to help women safely deliver their child, for many the “modernized” version of childbirth has not made much of an impact. With common STIs, such as syphilis still posing as a serious issue for women in Ghana, antenatal care is crucial for safe childbirth and a healthy baby. 

References

https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11898

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6

https://tradingeconomics.com/ghana/prevalence-of-syphilis-percent-of-women-attending-antenatal-care-wb-data.html

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01459740.2001.9966199?src=recsys

Risk Factors for a Syphilis Infection Among Pregnant Women in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, Ghana

Risk Factors for a Syphilis Infection Among Pregnant Women in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, Ghana Image

By identifying the risk factors of the common STDs, we will be able to raise awareness for their existence and over time, work to eliminate them. With that, we can act to decline the STD rates on a global level, with a focus on where those rates are the highest. That is exactly what a group of researchers has done back in 2019, trying to identify the risk factors for existing syphilis infection among pregnant women.

What are the syphilis risk factors among pregnant women in Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa District in Ghana?

Syphilis is one of the common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. Like any other STD, syphilis as well is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex. 

The first and most characteristic symptoms of existing syphilis infection is a painless sore that can appear anywhere on the sexual organs, rectum, lips, or inside the mouth. People usually fail to notice this first symptom and continue to live with the existing infection, eventually helping it spread if they engage in unprotected sexual intercourse in the near future.

Although we have penicillin since the 1990s, there is a continuous spread of syphilis on an international level, with more than 10 million individuals being diagnosed with an existing syphilis infection each year. Of course, the prevalence of syphilis is higher in high burden countries and rural areas such as Africa, especially in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa.

The overall prevalence of syphilis in Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana has been estimated to be around 3.2% with a higher prevalence among women, about 5.7%, as compared to men, among which the prevalence is around 1.7%. The prevalence seems to be dangerously high among pregnant women with a prevalence of 1.6% in 2016, which poses its own threats knowing how syphilis can be easily transmitted to the baby in the womb during pregnancy.

But it is not only the congenital syphilis infection that we need to fear. Other complications such as stillbirth, low birth weight, spontaneous abortion, and neonatal death are possible as well. In fact, syphilis during pregnancy is considered to be the second leading cause of stillbirth on a global level.

Because of the high prevalence rates, researchers have conducted a study that was later published in 2019, with the hopes of identifying the exact risk factors for developing a syphilis infection during pregnancy among pregnant women in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa. Identification of the risk factors can help to later focus on their elimination and improvement so that the rates can significantly decline.

One of the risk factors was found to be married since syphilis infection was more common among couples that have been married as compared to those individuals who have been single, although the difference was not significant. The prevalence of syphilis was high in those who have reported a history of coerced sexual intercourse and those who have engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse of any kind with multiple partners. Living in rural areas such as the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa played one of the biggest roles as a significant risk factor.

Conclusion

As it turns out, being in a marriage, living in a rural area, and having a history of coerced sexual intercourse play the role of the biggest risk factors for syphilis in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa where there has been a high syphilis prevalence, especially in women and in pregnant women.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973824/

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6#ref-CR5

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527824/

https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/35/Supplement_2/S200/316361

https://www.who.int/gho/sti/en/

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6

The Lack of Syphilis Screening Practices for Blood Donations in Ghana Put Patients at Risk

The Lack of Syphilis Screening Practices for Blood Donations in Ghana Put Patients at Risk Image

Millions of people every year are exposed to potentially life-threatening risks from blood donations. While blood transfusions are meant to save a life, when an individual receives unsafe blood, it can have some serious consequences. 

Syphilis can be transferred from blood-to-blood donations since it is a blood-borne infection. If left untreated, this infection can damage the eyes, bones, brain, and aorta. In Ghana, syphilis is a widespread infection, and getting infected with it through blood transfusions is more common than people realize.

Dangerous High Rates of Syphilis Recorded in Blood Donations in Ghana

Based on statistics, blood donations have a high chance of transmitting syphilis to patients who receive infected blood transfusions. Ghana, however, has the highest proportion rate of syphilis-infected blood donations in all sub-Saharan African region.

In a survey from 2014 to 2015, 149 facilities that offer blood transfusions in Ghana have been analyzed to see whether or not they test their donated blood for STIs infections, syphilis to be exact. Based on the results, 48% of these facilities did test their blood samples, but the rest didn’t have such protocols.

In Ghana, there are ten administrative regions, each with its own hospital. But the access to these facilities is not distributed equally. In poorer districts, there are fewer health facilities and less access to adequate blood transfusions.

Despite global recommendations, more than 50% of all the facilities in Ghana that provide blood transfusions, don’t screen their donated blood for syphilis. This common practice is a major health concern and can have serious consequences. 

Why Are Blood Transfusions in Ghana Poorly Regulated?

Each country uses its own techniques for syphilis screening practices depending on the situation, prevalence of the infection, influence, infrastructure, and resource capacity. 

Even though Ghana has access to standard screening syphilis guidelines, they are mostly not followed since it’s very difficult to implement these guidelines locally.

Due to the lack of standard procedures for effective transfusions, this practice is not as efficient and safe as it should be. There are many reasons why this practice is so poorly regulated, and some of the most influential ones are:

  • Under-developed programs
  • Inadequate syphilis screening equipment 
  • Difficulties implementing such practices on the local market
  • Lack of resources

According to the Ministry of Health in Ghana, the program that ensures quality and safety for blood transfusions is under-developed, and most of the health facilities don’t have adequate equipment to carry out testing.

In almost all African countries, including Ghana, many patients use local blood banks to buy whatever is cheaper and in stock. 

But, since testing the blood sample for syphilis requires resources and costs more, facilities are not willing to spend that much if they want to sell these transfusions on the open local market.

Conclusion

Syphilis is a serious infection for many people in Ghana. To avoid transmitting this infection and potential health complications, it’s crucial for all health facilities in Ghana to test their blood before administrating it to patients. But, until this procedure becomes common practice, it’s recommended that individuals ask their transfusions to get tested before they agree to take them. 

Reference

https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(15)00302-1/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336891/

https://www.oatext.com/prevalence-of-syphilis-in-blood-donors-in-angola-from-2011-to-2016.php

Rapid-Response Syphilis Test Could Be Lifesaver in Ongoing Outbreak

Rapid-Response Syphilis Test Could Be Lifesaver in Ongoing Outbreak Image

A doctor is trying to get access to quick-response syphilis testing kits that can give results in 5 minutes. One infectious disease specialist from Edmonton is saying that fast-response syphilis blood test that might be the key to handling the major spike in Alberta’s syphilis cases, which in 2019 have resulted in 12 stillbirths.  

Just a year ago, the Health Services in Alberta announced an outbreak of syphilis. The recorded infection rates rose to the highest peak since 1948. By the end of November, in 2019, the region recorded more than 1,750 cases, 1,200 of which came from the Edmonton area. 

40 of these cases included pregnant women who passed their infection to the fetus resulting in numerous health issues like neurological difficulties, damaged liver, and even stillbirth. Of all of these cases, 12 resulted in stillbirths.

These results are tragic, given the fact that this STI can be managed easily and screening should be done early during pregnancy. That’s a third of infants who’ve lost their lives due to this common STI. No matter how we look at it, it’s terrifying. In Canada, the expected number of deaths from syphilis should be zero, the doctor declared. 

What Is Causing the Syphilis Rates to Skyrocket?

The problem lies in pregnant women who for multiple reasons, such as mental health problems, drug addiction or homelessness, are afraid they will lose custody of their child if they seek treatment or any form of care from the public health system, said Dr. Singh.

How Can Syphilis Testing Kits Help?

The typical way of reaching out for help doesn’t work for everyone. Going to the hospital and booking an appointment is simply out of the question for the vulnerable population. So, it’s paramount that we use a different way to reach out to them and get them the help they need.

That’s where a quick syphilis diagnostic kit can come in handy. With options such as these, testing doesn’t have to be performed in health care facilities, and patients can get results in just under 5 minutes. All of that can be achieved with a simple blood test, stated the doctor.

Before these kits could be used, they have to be tested in frigid temperatures. This will help evaluate their current viability and effectiveness. 

References

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/syphilis-test-alberta-outbreak-1.5482346

How Common is HIV and Syphilis Co-Infection in Ghana, Africa?

How Common is HIV and Syphilis Co-Infection in Ghana, Africa?

HIV and syphilis are dangerous enough when they appear alone, but even more dangerous when they appear together, causing a co-infection to occur, especially in pregnant women, thinking on all of the things that can go wrong with both the mother’s and the baby’s health. in the following article, we will look a bit deeper in the prevalence of a HIV/syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa and discuss the risks that an infection of that kind brings.

HIV and syphilis co-infection

HIV, short from human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that damages the human immune system, causing the unfortunately well-known disease called AIDS. HIV is most commonly transmitted due to unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal, while it can also be transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids.

Currently, there is a dangerously high HIV prevalence around the world, with an especially high rise in the number of HIV cases in Ghana, Africa. As of 2014, there have been roughly 150,000 people infected with HIV in Africa alone, while it has been suggested that around 91% of the children infected with HIV worldwide are living in Africa.

But it is not only HIV whose rates are high in Africa. There are other STDs to be mentioned as well, with syphilis being one of them. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria known as Treponema palladium. This infection is also transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, with dangerously high rates on an international level, and approximately 8.5% prevalence of syphilis in Cape Coast, Ghana.

The prevalence of HIV and syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa

What is frightening about HIV and syphilis is that they often appear in a sort of co-infection, being strongly linked with one another. Although syphilis alone is highly treatable thanks to the discovery of penicillin, it increases the incidence of HIV infections on an international level.

Syphilis and HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy from the infected mother to her baby in the womb, increasing the risk of neonatal death, spontaneous abortus, low birth weight, and congenital syphilis and HIV infection among many others. Because of the high probability of an existing HIV/syphilis infection during pregnancy, it is of vital importance that every pregnant woman is tested for both HIV and syphilis as early as the first visit to the doctor’s office as well as all throughout the different stages of pregnancy.

A study published in the Journal of Infection investigated the seroprevalence of HIV/syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa. The results showed that the seroprevalence of HIV/syphilis co-infection is approximately 18.4%, which serves as a relatively high seroprevalence. The researchers continued to explain how early testing and detecting in addition to proper treatment in the cases where there is a positive presence of HIV or syphilis or a co-infection for that matter, contributes to the reduction of the risk of these two infections being further spread among the population.

The study also revealed that when there is an HIV/ syphilis co-infection, the patients usually present with the first HIV symptoms a lot earlier, as compared with those patients where there is only HIV infection being present. This means that by raising awareness, we can work to improve the chances of these patients noticing and reporting their symptoms in the early stages, eventually proceeding to gain access to proper treatment with penicillin and ART (antiretroviral therapy).

Conclusion

In the last couple of years, more and more people in Ghana, Africa, as well as all around the world, have been struggling with an HIV/syphilis co-infection. This co-infection is known to bring various risks and reduce the quality of life of these individuals, but what is even more dangerous is the impact that this co-infection has on the health of pregnant women and their babies.

References

http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/images/news_release/2019/HIV%20Press%20Release%20-%20GHANA.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0953620508001301

http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/content/article/33/252/full/

https://www.journalofinfection.com/article/S0163-4453(10)00277-X/pdf

Syphilis Infection in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, Ghana

Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District

By identifying the risk factors of the common STDs, we will be able to raise awareness for their existence and over time, work to eliminate them. With that, we can act to decline the STD rates on a global level, with a focus on where those rates are the highest. That is exactly what a group of researchers has done back in 2019, trying to identify the risk factors for existing syphilis infection among pregnant women.

What are the syphilis risk factors among pregnant women in Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa District in Ghana?

Syphilis is one of the common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. Like any other STD, syphilis as well is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

The first and most characteristic symptoms of existing syphilis infection is a painless sore that can appear anywhere on the sexual organs, rectum, lips, or inside the mouth. People usually fail to notice this first symptom and continue to live with the existing infection, eventually helping it spread if they engage in unprotected sexual intercourse in the near future.

Although we have penicillin since the 1990s, there is a continuous spread of syphilis on an international level, with more than 10 million individuals being diagnosed with an existing syphilis infection each year. Of course, the prevalence of syphilis is higher in high burden countries and rural areas such as Africa, especially in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa.

The overall prevalence of syphilis in Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana has been estimated to be around 3.2% with a higher prevalence among women, about 5.7%, as compared to men, among which the prevalence is around 1.7%. The prevalence seems to be dangerously high among pregnant women with a prevalence of 1.6% in 2016, which poses its own threats knowing how syphilis can be easily transmitted to the baby in the womb during pregnancy.

But it is not only the congenital syphilis infection that we need to fear. Other complications such as stillbirth, low birth weight, spontaneous abortion, and neonatal death are possible as well. In fact, syphilis during pregnancy is considered to be the second leading cause of stillbirth on a global level.

Because of the high prevalence rates, researchers have conducted a study that was later published in 2019, with the hopes of identifying the exact risk factors for developing a syphilis infection during pregnancy among pregnant women in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa. Identification of the risk factors can help to later focus on their elimination and improvement so that the rates of syphilis can significantly decline.

One of the risk factors was found to be married since syphilis infection was more common among couples that have been married as compared to those individuals who have been single, although the difference was not significant. The prevalence of syphilis was high in those who have reported a history of coerced sexual intercourse and those who have engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse of any kind with multiple partners. Living in rural areas such as the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa played one of the biggest roles as a significant risk factor.

Biggest risk factors

As it turns out, being in a marriage, living in a rural area, and having a history of coerced sexual intercourse play the role of the biggest risk factors for syphilis in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa where there has been a high syphilis prevalence, especially in women and in pregnant women.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973824/
https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6#ref-CR5
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527824/
https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/35/Supplement_2/S200/316361
https://www.who.int/gho/sti/en/
https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6

How long it takes for STD symptoms to appear or show up on a Test?

STD Testing

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a common occurrence across the globe, particularly in developing countries such as Ghana. The public stigma associated with getting tested leaves sexually active people at high risk of developing some STD or unknowingly transmitting it to someone else. Sexually active men and women should get tested at least once a year and even frequently, so if they have multiple partners. Most people wonder how long it takes for symptoms of STD to show up or when they get detected through testing, and we are about to provide the answers. Read on to learn more.

How long it takes for STD to show up?

At first glance, it may seem logical that as soon as STD-causing bacteria (or virus) enter the body, you can get a test that would detect it. However, the processing route is more complicated than that. Generally speaking, we get infected when bacteria or other pathogens enter our bodies. Every infection has its own timeframe for susceptibility or incubation time, and STDs are not the exception.

For some STDs, the body starts producing antibodies to counteract infection and develops symptoms in a matter of a few days, but for others, it may take up to several months for the first signs to appear. Below, you can see the incubation period for various STDs:

  • Chlamydia – 7-21 days
  • Genital herpes – 2-12 days
  • Gonorrhea – 1-14 days
  • Syphilis – 3 weeks – 20 years depending on the type
  • Oral herpes – 2-12 days
  • Trichomoniasis – 5-28 days

During the incubation period, a person may not experience symptoms at all. Bear in mind that some people don’t develop any symptoms at all. So, if you’re in a high-risk group of developing some STD, it’s a good idea to get tested, but not too early as you may test negative i.e., the STD might not be detected. Wait for the incubation period to end or consult a doctor who will advise you regarding the right time to get tested.

When to get retested?

People with some STDs may need to get retested after a while to make sure their infection has been cured completely. Some patients don’t need to get retested, though. Here are a few examples:

  • Chlamydia – 3 months
  • Genital and oral herpes – no retesting necessary (lifelong infections)
  • Gonorrhea – 3 months
  • Syphilis – 4 weeks
  • Trichomoniasis – 2 weeks

Why get tested?

Most people underestimate the importance of getting tested. The danger of STDs is that they don’t always induce symptoms, and it’s easy to spread them to sex partners. When left untreated, they can cause a number of complications. Therefore, make sure to get tested and protect your health, general wellbeing, and partner. Nowadays, it’s easy to learn whether you have STD because it’s possible to get tests online and do the whole thing in the comfort of your home.

Every type of STD has its own incubation time during which people usually don’t notice any symptoms. Testing too early could yield negative results even if the person has STD, so test at an appropriate time if you suspect to have some sexually-transmitted disease. Or even better, get tested for STD once a year and even more frequently if you have multiple sex partners.

References

https://www.healthtestingcenters.com/how-long-should-i-wait-test-std/

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/how-soon-do-sti-symptoms-appear/

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-it-take-for-std-to-show-up