The Annual Economic Burden of Syphilis: An Estimation of Direct, Productivity, and Intangible Costs for Syphilis in Guangdong Initiative for Comprehensive Control of Syphilis Sites

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Syphilis has continuously posed a great challenge to China. However, very little data existed regarding the cost of syphilis. Taking Guangdong Initiative for Comprehensive Control of Syphilis area as the research site, we aimed to comprehensively measure the annual economic burden of syphilis from a societal perspective.


Newly diagnosed and follow-up outpatient cases were investigated by questionnaire. Reported tertiary syphilis cases and medical institutions cost were both collected. The direct economic burden was measured by the bottom-up approach, the productivity cost by the human capital method, and the intangible burden by the contingency valuation method.


Three hundred five valid early syphilis cases and 13 valid tertiary syphilis cases were collected in the investigation to estimate the personal average cost. The total economic burden of syphilis was US $729,096.85 in Guangdong Initiative for Comprehensive Control of Syphilis sites in the year of 2014, with medical institutions cost accounting for 73.23% of the total. Household average direct cost of early syphilis was US $23.74. Average hospitalization cost of tertiary syphilis was US $2,749.93. Of the cost to medical institutions, screening and testing comprised the largest proportion (26%), followed by intervention and case management (22%) and operational cost (21%). Household average productivity cost of early syphilis was US $61.19. Household intangible cost of syphilis was US $15,810.54.


Syphilis caused a substantial economic burden on patients, their families, and society in Guangdong. Household productivity and intangible costs both shared positive relationships with local economic levels. Strengthening the prevention and effective treatment of early syphilis could greatly help to lower the economic burden of syphilis.

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