Sexually active Victorians are encouraged to get checked as syphilis cases continue to rise in the state.
Dr Brett Sutton, deputy chief health officer, says the number of cases of syphilis diagnosed in the state have been increasing by about 20 per cent per year for the last few years - and at a much faster rate in women.
There was a record high of 1337 cases of syphilis notified in Victoria in 2017, compared to 1,128 infections in 2016 and 949 the year before.
While the disease is more common in men who have sex with men, there's been a continued increase of cases among women in the past three years, with the number of women presenting with the STI almost tripling.
“We want anyone to know if they are sexually active they could be at risk of syphilis – or any STDs”
He said the biggest group at risk of complications from the disease were women, who could pass on birth defects to their unborn children.
He said there had been a change in risk perception around sexually transmitted diseases and infections in recent years.
“Condom use, we know, has dropped somewhat in recent years – and there’s probably more casual hook up that are occurring in the era of social media and the carious dating apps that which allow casual encounters to occur with greater ease than twenty years ago.”
He said anyone who is sexually active should be tested for STIs:
“Sometimes STIs can have no symptoms but they still have consequences.”