Syphilis cases on Teesside highest for ten years

Public information poster warning against syphilis
Image caption Councils across Teesside are warning people to protect themselves against syphilis

Cases of syphilis have reached their highest level in ten years on Teesside.

More than 100 cases of the sexually-transmitted infection were recorded last year, prompting Stockton Council to stress the need for safer sex.

However, the council's health and wellbeing board has heard deprivation is preventing some people accessing condoms.

Councillor Luke Frost said he was "approached by a resident who had no money but still wanted protection".

"If we see an increase, it could be down to poverty," he said.

"We live in a borough which does, unfortunately, have quite a lot of deprivation and it's not easy for them to just nip to the supermarket for a pack of condoms."

'Get tested'

Syphilis can have few symptoms but typically appears as red sores on the genitals, hands or feet.

The bacterial infection can cause serious health problems for pregnant women and unborn babies, leading to miscarriages, stillbirths or infections.

Stockton Council's public health consultant Dr Tanja Braun told the board advice campaigns had been launched in response to the spike in cases, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

"We want to remind people to have safer sex, tell them about the risks in pregnancy and urge them to get tested," she said.

The board was told a "C-Card scheme" was available for 13 to 24-year-olds which allowed them to get free condoms, information and advice.

Dr Braun said the situation was being monitored "very closely" and she was hoping it would be contained quickly.

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