A UK based team of researchers has found that regular epidemics of syphilis in the USA are due to the intrinsic cyclical nature of the disease. They show that changes in the immunity of the population cause periodic syphilis outbreaks, rather than changes in sexual behaviour, as was previously thought.
According to research published today in Nature, the team from Imperial College London and funded by the Medical Research Council and the Royal Society suggest that syphilis outbreaks, previously attributed to social phenomena such as the sexual revolution or the gay liberation movement, are actually caused by a loss of immunity among those at risk of infection.
Dr Nicholas Grassly, from Imperial College London, based at St Marys Hospital and one of the researchers said: "While we do not dispute the fact that syphilis is transmitted by unsafe sex, our findings suggest that change in population immunity is the main reason for periodic epidemics of syphilis, not change in sexual behaviour."
Tony Stephenson | EurekAlert!
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