Korean J Dermatol.  2021 Jul;59(6):417-425.

A Clinical and Serologic Analysis of Syphilis in a Single Institution (2008∼2019)

  • 1Departments of Dermatology, Chosun University College of Medicine, Gwangju, Korea
  • 2Departments of Neurosurgery, Chosun University College of Medicine, Gwangju, Korea


Syphilis is an infectious and sexually transmitted disease caused by Treponema pallidum. The diagnosis and treatment of syphilis may be delayed because of the various clinical features.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the epidemiological changes and clinical features of syphilis in Korea.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of 303 subjects with positive venereal disease research laboratories results, including 208 syphilis patients who visited the Dermatology Department of Chosun University Hospital between 2008 and 2019. The analysis was performed based on variables, such as age, sex, serological results, and clinical stages.
During the study period, the mean reactive rate of the serum venereal disease research laboratories test was 0.14%, and the annual incidence rate tended to decrease. Of the 208 syphilis patients, the male:female ratio was 1:2.7 among those aged 0 to 19 years and 2.3:1 among those aged 50 to 59 years. Eighty-six patients (41.3%) were diagnosed with symptomatic syphilis, which accounted for the highest proportion (63.6%) among those aged 0 to 19 years. The incidence tended to decrease with increasing age (p<0.001). Maculopapular syphilis was the most commonly observed form of secondary syphilis (44.6%). One hundred and twenty-two patients (58.7%) were diagnosed with latent syphilis, and the rate tended to increase with age (p<0.001).
Although the number of patients with syphilis is declining, the number of young and female patients is increasing compared to the past. Therefore, education and caution against syphilis by dermatologists may be necessary, especially for younger people.


Epidemiology; Prevalence; Syphilid; Syphilis
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