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Japan's syphilis cases at record high for 2nd year in a row, early figures show

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TOKYO -- The number of syphilis cases in Japan in 2022 stood at 8,155 as of Sept. 4, the highest figure recorded since counting began, preliminary figures show.

    The figure surpassed the previous high of 7,875 patients cited in early figures for 2021. The latest figure indicates that overall syphilis cases could top 10,000 by the end of the year, and one expert has warned that if the spread of the disease continues, there is a risk that more people could develop serious complications without being aware they are infected.

    In Japan, syphilis began to increase around 2011. The numbers declined in 2020, but jumped again last year, reaching what was then a record high. This year's preliminary national figure was determined from a tally released on Sept. 8 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Infectious Disease Surveillance Center.

    According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, by prefecture, this year's highest preliminary total as of Aug. 28 was 2,268 in Tokyo, followed by 1,020 in Osaka, 447 in Aichi and 323 in Fukuoka.

    People having sex with multiple partners they meet through social media and dating apps has been pointed out as a factor in the sharp rise.

    Katsumi Shigemura, an associate professor at Kobe University and director of the Japanese Society for Sexually Transmitted Infections, said, "If you are concerned about redness or other signs (of infection) in the genital area, please visit a medical institution. It is also important for those who are undergoing treatment to confirm that they are cured with their doctor, and to avoid stopping taking medicine halfway through their course of treatment."

    (Japanese original by Sooryeon Kim, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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