Syphilis cases in B.C. youth have nearly doubled, health officials say. But some may not know they have it

2023-06-09 13:00:00  • 4 mins

Syphilis has nearly doubled in numbers for young people in B.C. over the last five years, and health experts say it's important for youthto get tested as the sexually transmitted infection (STI) can often come with unnoticeable symptoms.

Among young people age20-24, the numbers have nearly doubled since 2018, rising from 96 cases in 2018 to 181 cases in 2022, according to the BCCDC.

Among those age 15-19, the numbers went up from 14 cases to 30 cases, peaking in 2021 with 35 cases.

"Getting diagnosed, knowing that you need to go and seek care is really important," said Dr. Jason Wong, a public health physician at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

Expertsattribute the uptick to several factors,includinga decline incondom useandthe rise of infectious syphilis in the general population. BCCDC data showsa 27 per cent increase in syphilis cases from 2021-22 among the general population.

They also say people could be unaware they have been infected because syphilis doesn't always come with noticeablesymptoms.

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