Congenital Syphilis Reported in Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Cases of congenital syphilis have been registered in Armenia. In 1999 alone six such cases have been registered in different regions of the country–Director of the Research Medical Center of Dermatology and Sexually-Transmitted Diseases–Senior Expert for the Ministry of Health of Armenia Karen Babayan Told Noyan Tapan.

Babayan said the tendency towards the change in the symptoms of syphilis has been observed over the last few years. The active form of the disease–when its symptoms are obvious–are usually observed in 75 percent of cases. In Armenia this figure is 33 percent–which means over 60 percent of patients do not manifest outer symptoms of the disease. The main reason is that patients do not suspect that they are infected with the disease and take different antibiotics for different reasons thereby leading the disease into a latent form.

Babayan pointed out that patients are not informed that the treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases–in particular–syphilis is free at his center. Tests are done for only $2.

Prostitutes are the most commonly affected by the disease. According to the data provided by the center–one of every two prostitutes is infected with sexually-transmitted diseases–and every seventh with syphilis.

Sexual awareness campaigns are being planned and conducted with the assistance of the World Health Organization–the French organization "Medicines sans Frontieres," and the Dutch Red Cross. Patients receive free test cards–condoms–and safe sex booklets. Studies have shown that such campaigns are effective. Most of the former patients of the center now resort to safe sex.

Specialists are concerned over the hygienic illiteracy of young people. According to Babayan–doctors intend to apply to relevant bodies and suggest that special sexual education courses be introduced into school curricula and specialists be trained in higher schools.

Babayan pointed out the importance of propaganda campaign and said that such infections raise the risk of a person’s likelihood of being infected with the AIDS virus. The struggle against the "plague of the 20th century" must be waged as part of general struggle against sexually-transmitted diseases–said Babayan.

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