Rural mothers-to-be in China lack syphilis testing

November 2, 2011 By GILLIAN WONG , Associated Press

(AP) -- Nearly half of pregnant women do not get tested for syphilis in poor areas of southern China where the sexually transmitted disease has seen a resurgence, researchers said Wednesday.

A study published in a journal found that more than 40 percent of about 125,000 mothers-to-be in Guangdong province were not tested for syphilis in 2008, mostly due to a lack of health facilities in rural areas.

"At the moment, the lack of screening is also related to the mothers' lack of awareness about the need to go and get tested, or that the screening service exists," said Chen Xiangsheng, deputy director of China's National Center for Sexually Transmitted Disease Control in Nanjing.

"If a mother has been infected with syphilis, it can be found through the screening at an early stage and treated to prevent the baby from being infected too," said Chen, who is one of the study's researchers, in an interview.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is easy to cure but can ravage the mind and kill if untreated. Pregnant women with syphilis can miscarry or the babies can be stillborn or have such as blindness and .

It was virtually eradicated in China before resurfacing in the 1980s, and cases are now growing by 30 percent a year. Prostitutes along with gay and , many of whom are married, are driving the epidemic.

In China's poor rural areas, syphilis range. As few as one-tenth of pregnant women were tested at community health stations, which are sometimes the only facilities that provide prenatal care in very , the study said.

The study's findings point to the need to expand the use of 15-minute rapid syphilis tests that do not require laboratories or equipment, just blood from a finger prick, said Professor Rosanna Peeling, an expert in diagnostic tests at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In that way, women who test positive can be treated on the same day, said Peeling, also one of the study's authors, who previously worked for the WHO. "If you are in a rural situation and you have to walk ten miles to a clinic, you're not going to come back (for treatment), especially if you don't feel bad and you have no symptoms," she said.

Since the research was conducted in 2008, several provincial and national programs to improve testing have been put in place, the study said.

shares

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.