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Congenital syphilis: A Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) perspective

Julia Valderrama-Alberola, MD, MPH, HIV/AIDS Unit, Pan American Health Organization, 525 Twenty-third Street., Washington, DC 20037, 202 974 3596, valderrj@paho.org and Fernando Zacarias, MD, DrPH, Family and Community Health Area, Pan American Health Organization, 525 Twenty-third Street, Washington, DC 20037.

Congenital syphilis is a totally preventable disease. It's occurrence represents a public health program failure since diagnostic methods and effective treatment have been available for more than 60 years.

Despite underreporting, it is conservatively estimated that, every year 140,000 pregnancies in LAC end in abortion, stillbirth or neonatal infection due to syphilis.

Methods: Analysis of country reports and literature review.

Results: Official data from 2002, showed that only 10,600 cases of congenital syphilis were actually reported to the Pan American Health Organization by 15 countries in LAC. The incidence of congenital syphilis ranged from 1.4 per 1,000 live births in El Salvador to 12.0 per 1,000 live births in Honduras. In countries such as Paraguay, only 10% of syphilitic infections were detected among pregnant women. The estimated regional prevalence of syphilis among pregnant women was 3.1 %, ranging from 1.78 % in Cuba to 6.21 % in Paraguay. In addition, data from Mexico showed that only 16% of syphilis in the general population was being reported.

Conclusions: In spite of underreporting and the wide range of prevalence in different countries, maternal and congenital syphilis continue to be a problem. We should take advantage of the strong interest in preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, and revitalize our efforts for the prevention of maternal syphilis, and eventual control and elimination of congenital syphilis.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: STD Prevention, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: employment

Preventing 'Other' Sexually Transmitted Infections in Reproductive Health Programs: U.S. and International Perspectives

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA