Recent trends of syphilis prevalence in normal population in Korea: A single center study in Seoul

Jin Ok Baek, Hyun Joong Jee, Tae Kyun Kim, Hyun Sook Kim, Min Geol Lee

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Due to effective medicine and improved socioeconomic status, the prevalence of syphilis has rapidly decreased in South Korea. We have reported the prevalence of syphilis periodically in our center since 1977, using the same geographical areas and similar population groups and methods in order to determine trends. Objective: To determine the current prevalence of syphilis in the healthy population of Korea and trends of syphilis prevalence during the last 30 years. Methods: Venereal Disease Reserch Laboratory (VDRL) tests were administered to 12,453 healthy adults aged 20 or greater (12,013 physical examinees, 440 pregnant women) examined at Severance Hospital between January and December of 2005. We carried out VDRL quantitative tests and FTA-ABS tests in VDRL-reactive persons. The results were compared with that of 6 previous surveys in similar population groups reported by the same authors. Statistical analysis of the data was conducted using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS version 9.1, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA). Results: The total number of subjects positive on the VDRL test was 83 of 12,453 (0.7%). A VDRL-positive rate of 0.2% was found among the 440 pregnant women, while the 12,013 physical examinees showed a positive rate of 0.7%. Among all age groups, the VDRL-positive rate exhibited a decreasing trend from 1977 to 2005 (p <0.0001). Although there is a difference between 2000 and 2005, which indicates an increase in prevalence in those surveyed as a whole, the increase is not significant when analyzed by age groups. Conclusion: During the last thirty-years, the prevalence of syphilis has decreased. But, in our survey of 2005, we found an increase in prevalence. Further evaluation is necessary to confirm the trend towards an increase and the causes of the increase. Moreover, extensive policies and strategies including prophylaxis, management, education of syphilis are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-110
Number of pages5
JournalKorean Journal of Dermatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Feb

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Dermatology


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