Uganda to roll out compulsory Syphilis testing for pregnant women

Uganda to roll out compulsory Syphilis testing for pregnant women

The Ministry of Health has announced compulsory testing and treatment of Syphilis among pregnant women.

The announcement was made on Friday during a dissemination meeting of the revised consolidated guidelines for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Kampala.

According to the health ministry, the change is aimed at decreasing the chances of Syphilis being spread to unborn babies.

Dr Joshua Musinguzi, Programme Manager, AIDS Control Programme says that the new compulsory testing policy will be rolled out in December.

He says that the change has been made because many women living with HIV also have syphilis.

The move joins government’s policy of mandatory HIV testing for all pregnant women who go to hospital. According to data from the health ministry, more than 30 percent of the women on ART also have syphilis.

Syphilis is a chronic bacterial disease that is contracted chiefly by infection during sexual intercourse but also congenitally by infection of a developing foetus.

Data further indicates that prevalence of syphilis among women attending antenatal stands at 6.4 percent according to a 2015 World Bank collection of Development Indicators.

Dr Musinguzi says that the new treatment guidelines are expected to start at the end of this year.
Syphilis is treated with the use of antibiotics. The most common antibiotic used is
Penicillin. Other antibiotics that can be used include; doxycycline and azithromycin.

When not treated, syphilis can lead to blindness, hearing loss and heart disease. Symptoms of syphilis include; painless sore and swelling of the lymph nodes at the groin area, sores in the mouth, vagina and anus. Other symptoms also include fever, weight and hair loss.