Published on May 9, 2012 at 5:33 AM
By Dr Ananya Mandal
The Queensland government is offering Mount Isa teenagers mobile phone credit in exchange for sexual health checks.
Local health services have noted a nine-fold increase in syphilis cases since January last year, most of which were people under the age of 25. Chief health officer Jeanette Young said, “Syphilis is spread through unsafe sex. Pregnant mothers can also pass the disease onto their babies either in the womb or during delivery… There's absolutely no shame in getting treatment if you suspect you have an STI (sexually transmitted illness) like syphilis. It's easily treated and free of charge.”
Queensland Health announced it would offer 20 Telstra credit vouchers to people in Mount Isa who undergo a free, confidential screening for the disease before June 1. Participants will also be put into a draw to win a mobile phone.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by a type of bacteria. The disease affects both men and women and can infect many areas including the genitals, lips, mouth and anus. Syphilis is usually transmitted between people engaged in sexual activity. It is also possible for the disease to be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.
The early symptoms of syphilis include small, single, painless sores and sometimes the swelling of nearby lymph nodes. These symptoms, if left untreated, often develop into a non-itchy skin rash, which may go away for a while and then return.
Syphilis, if caught early, can be easily cured with antibiotics. The disease can also be partially prevented by the correct usage of latex condoms; however, this does not completely eliminate the risk of catching or spreading syphilis.