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There are conflicting data on how COVID-19 has impacted STI epidemiology worldwide.1 In Rome, we observed a marked decrease in syphilis diagnoses during the first lockdown of spring 2020.2 Extending our previous observations, we compared syphilis diagnoses (primary/secondary/recent) during the whole of 2020 versus those of the previous 3 years (figure 1). While diagnoses by month were homogeneous in the prepandemic period (p for trend=0.40), 2020 showed a peak in June, a sharp and atypical decline in September, returning to the usual figures in November, when Rome was in ‘soft’ lockdown. We speculate that the increase in June might reflect: (1) visit postponement by patients who, despite being symptomatic, were reluctant to attend the hospital; (2) diagnoses of infections acquired during lockdown. Overall, syphilis diagnoses were 81 in 2020 compared with mean 106 (SE: 7) in 2017–2019 suggesting, to some extent, a reduction of at-risk sexual encounters in the pandemic period.
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Handling editor Anna Maria Geretti
Contributors Conceptualisation: AL, MZ. Data curation: EG, MG, MGD. Formal analysis: MGD, MZ. Investigation: AL, EG, FM, MG, MGD, MZ. Methodology: AL, MGD, MZ. Project administration: AL, MZ. Resources: VG, MP, MS, CS, LG, FP, ARB, AM. Supervision: AL, AM. Visualisation: AL, FM, EG, MGD, MZ. Writing–original draft: AL, FM, MGD, MZ. Writing–review and editing: EG, MG, VG, MP, MS, CS, LG, FP, ARB, AM.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.