Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Scaling up syphilis testing in China: implementation beyond the clinic

Joseph D Tucker, Sarah J Hawkes, Yue-Pin Yin, Rosanna W Peeling, Myron S Cohen & Xiang-Sheng Chen

China is experiencing a syphilis epidemic of enormous proportions. The regions most heavily affected by syphilis correspond to regions where sexually transmitted HIV infection is also a major public health threat. Many high-risk patients in China fail to receive routine syphilis screening. This missed public health opportunity stems from both a failure of many high-risk individuals to seek clinical care and a disconnect between policy and practice. New point-of-care syphilis testing enables screening in non-traditional settings such as community organizations or sex venues. This paper describes the current Chinese syphilis policies, suggests a spatiotemporal framework (based on targeting high-risk times and places) to improve screening and care practices, and emphasizes a syphilis control policy extending beyond the clinical setting.