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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


VALDERRAMA, Julia; ZACARIAS, Fernando  and  MAZIN, Rafael. Maternal syphilis and congenital syphilis in Latin America: big problem, simple solution. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.16, n.3, pp.209-210. ISSN 1680-5348.

From the data submitted to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) by nationwide programs against sexually transmitted diseases (STD), HIV infection, and AIDS (2002), one can estimate the overall prevalence of syphilis among pregnant women to be 3.1% and to range from 1.00% in Peru to 6.21% in Paraguay. According to these data, the incidence of congenital syphilis ranges from 1.4 per 1 000 live births in El Salvador to 12.0 per 1 000 live births in Honduras. Among men who engage in sex with other men, who often classify themselves as heterosexual, as well as in female sex workers, the prevalence of syphilis ranged from 5% to 15%. Factors that determine the persistence of congenital syphilis as a public health problem include a lack of awareness of the seriousness of the problem among politicians, health officials, and health care providers, difficult access to prenatal care and screening services, a low demand for the test among users, and the stigma and discrimination that surround sexually transmitted diseases (STD). This paper seeks to focus the attention of health professionals on maternal and congenital syphilis so they will undertake actions, using an interprogrammatic approach, to eliminate congenital syphilis from Latin America and the Caribbean. Eliminating congenital syphilis will only become possible if interventions targeting vulnerable groups are also implemented. PAHO's role in eliminating congenital syphilis includes determining the baseline situation in the Region as a whole and in each country, developing communication and procurement strategies, supporting nationwide programs, promoting operational research, and facilitating interprogrammatic coordination.

Keywords : sífilis; sífilis congénita; Américas.

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