Syphilis prevalence within a population of intravenous drug users in Lisbon, Portugal

Abstract number: 1734_144

Matos R., Neves R., Matos A., Santos J., Benoliel C., Moniz A.

Syphilis is an infectious disease caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The prevalence of cases in the Portuguese population is about 13 per million inhabitants (0.0013%). The main means of transmission is the sexual contact with infected partner. However, transmission is also frequent by contact with contaminated body fluids, such as blood, among intravenous drug users (IDUs). The objective of this work was to evaluate the prevalence of syphilis among intravenous drug users during the past 5 years (2002–2006).

A total of 3118 different individuals were included in this study (mean age 35 years). These individuals were intravenous drug users who attended two mobile drug users support stands in Lisboa (centre). The VDRL assay was used for screening and confirmations were done with TPPA. A VDRL titer ≥ 32 dils was used to assume a recent infection status.

The main prevalence observed in this population was 8.7% (0.7% recent infections).

Both the positive prevalence rates and the recent infection rates have shown a tendency to decrease during these years (positive infections: 11.1 to 8.3%; recent infections: 0.96 to 0.31%, p < 0.01).

The positive cases prevalence has been decreasing since this IDU support programme started (2001), perhaps as a result of several disease control policies, such as syringe exchanges programmes for example.

The recent infections prevalence, albeit it's decrease, is 200 times higher than the estimated for the Portuguese population 0.0013%, as expected in this high risk population.

The control of transmissible diseases can only be overcome with the health control of high risk populations, such as the intravenous drug users. The syphilis situation presented is a good example that the work being done in the IDU's field seems to have good results but is still insufficient for a proper disease control.

Session Details

Date: 31/03/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Location: ICC, Munich, Germany
Presentation type:
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