Lets talk about syphilis

November 2019

Recent data of the Brazilian Ministry of Health shows a significant increase in cases of syphilis in 2018. According to the Epidemiological Bulletin on syphilis 2019, there was an increase from 59.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017, to 75.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the next year.

The name “syphilis” was coined by the Italian physician and poet Girolamo Fracastoro in his epic poem.

HCSM have already published several articles about this curable and neglected disease. Today, we highlight three of them:

Syphilis in ancient Peru – This paper examines the dissertation ‘La antigüedad de la sífilis en el antíguo Peru’, written by Julio Tello in 1909 and argues that it can be read as a thesis on medical anthropology.

Women’s reproductive health in early twentieth-century Rio de Janeiro – Cassia Roth, Professor from the Department of History at the University of Georgia, shows that elevated stillbirth and maternal mortality rates marked women’s reproductive years, despite official efforts to increase access to clinical healthcare. Syphilis and obstetric complications during childbirth were the main causes of stillbirths, while puerperal fever led maternal death rates.

Girolamo Fracastoro and the invention of syphilis  – The name “syphilis” was coined by the Italian physician and poet Girolamo Fracastoro in his epic poem, written in Latin, entitled Syphilis sive morbus gallicus. Virginia Iommi Echeverría, lecturer at the Instituto de Historia de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso analyzes the work of Fracastoro and his different ideas about the disease.

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