China's syphilis epidemic: epidemiology, proximate determinants of spread, and control responses

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Purpose of reviewChina has experienced an increase in the incidence and prevalence of syphilis that is especially remarkable since this infection was virtually eradicated in the country 50 years ago. The purpose of this analysis is to provide an overview of recent literature on syphilis proximate determinants and potential public health responses.Recent findingsPer capita syphilis burden is greatest in coastal urban China. There are a number of biological, demographic, geographic, and behavioral/social proximate determinants of syphilis spread that distinguish the Chinese syphilis epidemic. These determinants portend the need for intensified syphilis control efforts, including: comprehensive testing and treatment; integration with HIV, sexually transmitted infection, and antenatal services; scale-up of novel rapid syphilis test technology, and multisectorial support.SummaryThe Chinese central government recently announced a 10-year syphilis plan to provide clear expectations for evaluating the success of local syphilis control programs and integration with HIV testing programs. Further research is needed to understand the social and behavioral determinants driving the spread of syphilis.

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