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Despite the COVID-19 epidemic, restrictions and fewer trips abroad, the number of syphilis cases in Denmark increased in both 2019 and 2020, according to new data from the Statens Serum Institut (SSI).


After the number of syphilis cases decreased in Denmark in the years 2015-2018, they have now started to increase again.

In 2018, 326 cases of syphilis were reported to the Reporting System for Infectious Diseases (MIS). In 2019, the number rose to 365 cases and in 2020 to 446 cases. This corresponds to an increase of 36% in two years, and the rising trend has continued into 2021.

Men having sex with men (MSM) accounted for 72% of the reported cases in 2019 and 70% in 2020.

The syphilis annual statement also shows that the vast majority of those who became infected with syphilis in 2019 and 2020 have been infected in Denmark.

“Normally, there are more people who become infected with syphilis when traveling abroad, but they could not in 2020 due to travel restrictions. However, the fewer travel-related cases have not caused the total number of reported cases to fall – on the contrary. So despite travel restrictions and restrictions here at home, people have still been infected in Denmark ”–Susan Cowan, Section Leader, SSI

In addition to syphilis, SSI recently reported gonorrhea has also increased in recent years.

Looking at the age distribution, syphilis most often occurred among the 40-49-year-olds in both 2019 and 2020. For men, the median age was 40 years in both years, while for women it was 32 years and 34 years, respectively.

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In 2019, seven of the 39 reported cases of syphilis among women were found in pregnant women, while in 2020 it was nine out of 37 cases.

“It could indicate that there is an undiagnosed group among women and probably also among heterosexual men”, Susan Cowan said.

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