Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID)have reported 12,192 syphilis cases through December 14 this year, the highest number of the sexually transmitted infection since records have been kept. In October, cases topped the 10,000 mark.
Tokyo has reported the most cases with 3,428, followed by Osaka with 1,664, Aichi with 709 and Hokkaido with 554.
Syphilis was a major issue in Japan until shortly after the end of World War II, but the total reported cases declined to several hundred annually until 2011, when a rebound began.
Japan reported more than 5,000 syphilis cases three years straight and two consecutive years with more than 6,000 cases–Prior to 2018, the last time Japan saw more than 6,000 syphilis cases was 48 years ago.
In 2021, Japan eclipsed the 7,000 case mark with 7,873 syphilis cases.
Sex with multiple partners met through social media and dating apps has been blamed as a factor behind the surge.
Syphilis is a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) that can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly. Symptoms of syphilis in adults include a painless sore that will go away without treatment followed by a non-itchy body rash. If left untreated syphilis can lead to damage through the body including neurological and cardiovascular complications. Syphilis also increases the risk of HIV infection and, for women, can cause problems during pregnancy and for the newborn.
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