MG has almost 23 thousand cases of syphilis in 2021 and the Health Department reinforces prevention measures

The Minas Gerais State Health Department (SES-MG) warns of the importance of adopting prevention and treatment measures for syphilis cases registered in the state. The use of condoms during sexual intercourse is the main form of prevention, but early diagnosis and treatment are also important for controlling the disease.

Syphilis is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum and transmitted through sexual intercourse. In some stages, it has no symptoms. If not treated in time, the disease progresses to more serious forms, which can compromise the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, as well as organs such as eyes, skin and bones. In 2021, 22,728 cases of syphilis were recorded in the state. In 2020, there were 19,510.

With the objective of strengthening infection control, in 2021, more than R$ 47 million were transferred to the 853 municipalities of Minas Gerais to carry out the actions provided for in the Plan to Combat Syphilis in the state of Minas Gerais, which include strengthening measures to prevention and surveillance and active case finding. In addition, preventive supplies are distributed, such as male and female condoms and rapid tests, and medication for treatment, which is guaranteed by the Unified Health System (SUS).

forms of transmission

Syphilis can be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person, known as acquired transmission, or be transmitted to the child during pregnancy or delivery, classified as pregnant and congenital transmission.

According to the gynecologist at the Center for Strategic Information on Health Surveillance of Minas Gerais (CIEVS-MG), Romerson Martins Franco, prevention is the main protective measure. “Because it is an STI, it is essential to use condoms, whether male or female, in all sexual relations. In the case of any symptom or unprotected sexual contact, it is essential to seek care at a basic health unit for diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In addition, it is important for the person to perform routine exams at least once a year to assess their health”, he guides.

Data from the Notifiable Diseases Information System (SINAN), updated on 02/10/2022, indicate that in 2020, 12,775 cases of acquired syphilis, 4,994 cases of syphilis in pregnant women and 1,741 cases of congenital syphilis were diagnosed in Minas. In 2021, there were 15,581 cases of acquired syphilis, 5,091 cases of infection in pregnant women and 2,056 cases of congenital syphilis throughout the state.


Symptoms vary depending on the stage of infection in the individual’s body. In its first phase, it is characterized by an ulcer, usually single, that occurs at the entry site of the bacteria (penis, vulva, vagina, cervix, anus and mouth).

The secondary phase appears on average between six weeks and six months after infection. In this case, skin rashes may occur. The tertiary phase manifests itself in the form of inflammation and tissue destruction. In this case, the involvement of the nervous and cardiovascular systems is common.

Specifically for pregnant women, early detection of syphilis is essential to avoid vertical transmission and consequent malformations in the fetus, complications such as premature birth, low birth weight, pneumonia, anemia and even brain involvement.

diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis can be performed through the rapid test, with the collection of a drop of blood from the digital pulp. If the result is reactive, a blood sample should be collected and sent for a laboratory test to complete the diagnosis.

In relation to congenital syphilis, the gynecologist reinforces that both pregnant women and their partners should undergo diagnostic tests. “In case of a positive result for the pregnant woman, it is essential that the partner also seeks the health service and undergoes treatment. In this way, reinfection with syphilis is avoided, and the health of the mother and baby is guaranteed”, adds Franco.

In Minas Gerais, users find the exam available at Basic Health Units and Testing and Counseling Centers (CTA) and the treatment is provided by the Unified Health System (SUS).

More information about the infection can be accessed at:

Coping actions

In 2021, SES-MG published the Plan to Combat Syphilis in the State of Minas Gerais, which provided a financial transfer of BRL 47,016,947.02 to municipalities to develop actions for the early detection of syphilis, timely treatment and effective surveillance of the disease through notifications, active search and correct closure of cases.

SES-MG, through the STI/AIDS/HIV coordination, also encourages the implementation of the rapid test in Primary Care, providing access to timely and adequate diagnosis and treatment, especially for pregnant women and sexual partners.

In addition, the secretariat’s team constantly monitors the actions already underway, with an emphasis on raising awareness among professionals in the network, in order to improve early diagnosis and treatment of those infected, as well as their sexual partners.

Also noteworthy is the implementation of the Investigation Committees on Vertical Transmission of STIs in Regional Health Units and municipalities in the state, with the objective of proposing strategies that can correct possible failures in the prevention, care and surveillance of vertical transmission, in addition to proposing measures of intervention.

Source: Minas Agency

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