Advice for GPs on the syphilis outbreak in Northern Australia

9 Jun 2016

The Department of Health advises that cases of infectious syphilis continue to be diagnosed among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in outbreak regions in northern Australia. The rapid and wide spread nature of the outbreak in remote and rural areas, and high mobility of the at-risk population may result in spread to new non-outbreak areas.

The latest advice from the Department of Health encourages GPs to:

  • Test all young people annually for sexually transmissible infections.
  • Test all young people with another sexually transmissible infection (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, mycoplasma genitalium) for syphilis and HIV.
  • Treat and test all symptomatic cases of sexually transmissible infections immediately.
  • Treat all cases of infectious syphilis within two weeks of diagnosis and encourage all sexual contacts of cases to get tested.
  • Test all cases of infectious syphilis for HIV.
  • Follow-up cases for repeat syphilis serology at 3-6 months post treatment.

All antenatal women should be tested at the first antenatal visit and according to regional clinical guidelines throughout the pregnancy.

Further information:

Outbreak -

National guidelines -