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Help evaluate a faster way of screening for syphilis
Feb 12, 2021 by Tessa Lawson Tattersall, Clinical Prevention Services, BC Centre for Disease Control
The number of syphilis cases in British Columbia (BC) is increasing significantly, and has reached the highest rate of infection seen in over 30 years. This is echoed by Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer who has said that alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, we are “still in the midst of an outbreak of syphilis in the province". Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by syphilis in BC.
Syphilis is often asymptomatic, and there are complications associated with a late diagnosis. Current syphilis screening tests can take six weeks or longer from the date of exposure to detect a syphilis infection. This further highlights the urgent need to find tools to diagnose syphilis as early as possible.
The current syphilis screening tests can take six weeks or longer from the date of exposure to detect a syphilis infection. As a result, the pilot Syphilis Screening Study aims to compare the performance of a new “early” test (T. pallidum polymerase chain reaction (PCR)) to the standard care test (serology using the enzyme immunoassay (EIA)) as a way to detect syphilis in asymptomatic men who have sex with men.
Participation will involve a full sexually transmitted infections (STI) screen at the BC Centre for Disease Control Provincial STI clinic in Vancouver. Participants will be compensated for their time.
• Men who have sex with men
• Aged 18 years or older
• Sexually active without using a condom in the last 3 months
• Have not recently used antibiotics
• Have not recently tested positive for syphilis
• Do not currently have any symptoms that may be indicative of a STI
Those interested in participating can contact study research coordinator Tessa at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 604-707-5617.
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