Congenital Syphilis, a Concern in Argentina

Congenital Syphilis, a Concern in Argentina

According to information from the Argentinian Health Department, the rate of syphilis in young and adult people tripled between 2013 and 2017, by going from 11.7 to 35.2 cases for every 100 thousand inhabitants, just to reach 50 cases for every 100 thousand inhabitants in 2019. Additionally, positive syphilis test results in pregnant women went from 2% to 3.2%.

It has also been detected that Corrientes is the second province with the highest rate of congenital syphilis, with 2.4 cases per every thousand births registered in 2019, only after La Pampa, which documented 6.9 cases per every thousand births. 

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. During pregnancy, it is transmitted to the fetus through the placenta, and it can cause low birth weight, premature labor or even miscarriage. Infected babies may be born without symptoms of the diseases, but if they do not receive treatment they could lose their sense of hearing, develop cataracts or seizures and could be at risk of death

In light of this, the “Universidad Nacional del Nordeste” University, the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Flacso) and the National University of Buenos Aires carried out a study with the aim of positioning into the public agenda, the importance of attending this health matter, as was informed by the “El Litoral” newspaper. 

The investigation does research about the place congenital syphilis occupies in the international health agenda, as well as Argentina’s. According to doctor Gerardo Deluca, researcher for the Unne Regional Medicine Faculty and Institute of Medicine, “the study considers there are public health problems, that even though they are recognized as such, and having the resources to approach them, they do not go beyond the formal or government agenda towards the decision-making agenda and finally translate into concrete action policies”. 

One problem observed is the flow of resources for attention, since most of what is destined to STIs is given through the HIV/AIDS programs. However, this last infection is the one that absorbs most of the resources. Also, the strategy in Argentina links the elimination of congenital syphilis as a public health problem to the elimination of congenital HIV, promoting the joint elimination of both infections. 

However, although congenital HIV and syphilis do share ways of transmission, the incidence rate of both infections behave differently: while congenital HIV is decreasing, congenital syphilis is moving in the opposite direction.