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Syphilis Outbreak in Nunavut

Syphilis Outbreak in Nunavut: 2013 summary

Syphilis is a serious disease that is spread during sex. From 2007 to 2011, there were only 0 to 4 syphilis cases reported each year. In 2012, an outbreak started with 31 reported cases that year. Nunavut’s rate in 2012 was over 10 times higher than Canada’s rate. In 2013, 59 more cases were reported in Nunavut’s outbreak.

Younger people were affected by the outbreak. The average age of syphilis cases decreased from 34 years in 2012 to 27 years in 2013.
Over half of cases in 2013 were male (53%), but there were more female cases in the younger ages.
Syphilis cases were reported in only 1 community in 2012 and this increased to 5 communities in 2013.

Practicing safer sex is an important part of preventing the spread of syphilis.

Almost all (96%) cases in 2013 reported having sex without a condom.
74% of cases reported alcohol or drug use, which can affect judgment around safer sex.
71% reported being infected with another sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past year.

Testing for syphilis and other STIs helps to ensure people get the treatment they need as early as possible. For more information on syphilis and prevention, visit, ask your Community Health Representative, or go to your local health centre or public health.