HIV testing. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

HIV testing. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Northern Alberta clinics to try dual syphilis, HIV tests in attempt to fight outbreak

The dual test could provide a patient with treatment during the same visit if a result were positive

The University of Alberta has started a clinical trial to try to fight a syphilis outbreak in Edmonton and northern Alberta.

Officials say in a news release that 1,500 people will be screened with dual HIV and syphilis test kits as soon as they go to a clinic for health care.

Alberta Health Services declared a syphilis outbreak last year after 12 stillborn births and 1,753 newly diagnosed cases of syphilis — 68 per cent of those in the Edmonton area.

Dr. Ameeta Singh, a clinical professor who’s leading the trial, says the dual test could provide a patient with treatment during the same visit if a result were positive.

She says that would prevent the patient from developing further complications and prevent ongoing spread, because penicillin renders syphilis non-infectious within 24 hours of treatment.

Syphilis is a highly infectious sexually transmitted infection with symptoms ranging from genital sores to vision and hearing loss, heart attack and dementia.

Women who acquire syphilis during pregnancy almost always pass it on to the baby, which can lead to stillbirth or developmental delays.

The Canadian Press

HIV/AIDS