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The great pretender returns to Dublin, Ireland
  1. S Hopkins1,
  2. F Lyons1,
  3. F Mulcahy1,
  4. C Bergin1
  1. St James's Hospital, James's Street, Dublin 8, and Gay Men's Health Project, Haddington Road, Dublin 2, Ireland
  1. Dr S Hopkins, Department of Genitourinary Medicine and Infectious Diseases, St James's Hospital, James's Street, Dublin 8, Ireland fmulcahy{at}


Background: An outbreak of syphilis has been identified primarily in Dublin, Ireland. On a background of a stable low incidence of syphilis, a significant increase in the number of cases of syphilis has been observed over the past 18 months.

Results: 181 cases of syphilis were seen in this period. 121 were defined as early syphilis. These cases were mainly among men who have sex with men (92%). A high rate of HIV co-infection was present; 16 patients who regularly attended HIV clinics were diagnosed with early syphilis. Nine patients were co-diagnosed with HIV and early syphilis. High risk behaviour and concurrent diagnoses with other sexually transmitted infections were prevalent in this cohort. Sexual networks were also investigated.

Conclusion: An education campaign, widespread advertisements, and on-site testing in commercial venues have revealed further cases. Safer sex messages need to be emphasised particularly among the HIV population. Further innovative strategies continue to be explored.

  • syphilis
  • epidemiology
  • Dublin

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  • Conflict of interest: none.