NEWS

Syphilis and other STDs are on the rise

Venereal diseases are on the rise in this country as personal precautions against AIDS are dropping and imported prostitution is showing a rise. Within a decade, cases of syphilis have quadrupled and the incidence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea, condyloma acuminata (a form of human papillomavirus infection) and genital herpes has also risen. Changes in prostitution have raised the risk of the transmission of AIDS and other venereal diseases, with an ever growing number of women from abroad being prostituted in Greece without the requisite license. Doubly illegal – usually they are illegally in the country as well – these women often fear availing themselves of health services. Statistics from the hospital for skin and venereal diseases, Andrea Syngrou, show that foreign prostitutes are six times more likely to have venereal diseases than Greek prostitutes. These figures no doubt are just the tip of the iceberg, indicative of the relaxation in vigilance that has marked Greek society of late and harbors dangers for public health. Professor of Dermatology at the University of Athens Andreas Katsambas explained that «the appearance of AIDS at the beginning of the 1980s as a direct threat to life resulted in a drop in the number of sexual partners and a parallel increase in the use of condoms above other contraceptive methods. «The incidence of other venereal diseases dropped, with syphilis as a typical example… After 1993, relationships freed up again because we had started to get used to AIDS and, at the same time, had a huge influx of migrants. Gradually, cases of syphilis began to rise. By 2000, they had doubled in relation to 1992 and by 2002, they had quadrupled.» Trends remain upward and «we expect an even greater increase in the future. Among Greeks, the great majority of cases (3:1) are men, among foreigners, women.» Katsambas recommends condom use in all sexual intercourse «even in monogamous relationships.» He explained: «Someone can be sure they are monogamous but not that their partner is. Doctors are often surprised by the polygamy of supposedly monogamous types.»