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Exploring the determinants of syphilis in Indigenous women in Winnipeg

Categories: Indigenous Health,NCCID,NCCIH

A production of the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases in conjunction with the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health

Syphilis infection rates are increasing in Winnipeg, Manitoba and cases of infectious syphilis have more than doubled in 2018. While an ongoing syphilis outbreak in Canada has predominantly affected males who have sex with men, a new trend has also emerged with higher rates among heterosexual people. This shift has resulted in unprecedented cases of congenital syphilis within the province. These infections seem to be associated with inadequate housing and substance use (methamphetamine in particular). It’s also known that a disproportionate number of these women are Indigenous.

NCCID spoke to Laverne Gervais and Dr. Marcia Anderson with the organization Ka Ni Kanichihk about the determinants of syphilis transmission in Indigenous women and what public health and primary care providers can do, learn, and work with agencies such as Ka Ni Kanichihk to slow or stop the progression of syphilis among women and in the community.

We also spoke to Dr. Jared Bullard about the recent increases in cases of congenital syphilis in Manitoba, the risks infections pose to a fetus, and prevention strategies.