Social networking gives you syphilis, says doctor

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Northeastern England has seen a sharp rise in the number of cases of syphilis, and the local health boss reckons he knows why. Social networking.

Yup, with the number of local cases having quadrupled over the last year, Professor Peter Kelly, executive director of public health for NHS Tees, is suggesting that sites like Twitter and Facebook are to blame.

Apparently the Teeside area is Britain's Facebook capital, with inhabitants 25 percent more likely than average to log on. And, while syphilis had been considered pretty much eradicated, cases in the area continue to rise.

"Unprotected sex, especially with casual partners, is the biggest risk for syphilis. Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex," says Kelly.

"It is important that people avoid high risk sexual behaviours and practise safe sex to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections."

Kelly said the health authority was engaging in a number of camapigns to increase awareness of sexual diseases in the region. They don't appear to have a Twitter feed or Facebook page, though.