Outbreak Training Website

Responses to the Syphilis Outbreak

Responses to the syphilis outbreak have recognised the need for a multi-faceted approach and to focus not just on syphilis but more broadly, to address the high rates of other STIs and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) among populations affected. Responses have included the establishment of new, and strengthening of existing, strategies.

Examples of jurisdictional responses are provided in more detail at the end of this page. 

Enhanced response, action plan (including priority areas) and governance

A National Strategic Approach and accompanying Action Plan were developed by the AHPPC Syphilis Enhanced Response Governance Group and endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) in December 2017.

The Action Plan has short and longer term goals which is aligned with the Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections Strategy 2018-2022.

The following four priority areas are identified in the Action Plan:

Testing and treatment

Increase the:

  • number of people tested for syphilis,
  • frequency of testing,
  • subsequent treatment of those infected and
  • contact tracing of known sexual contacts.


Surveillance and reporting

Enhancing the:

·         quality of reporting and

·         improving access to laboratory testing data and

·         development of key reporting indicators for outbreak monitoring.


Education and awareness

Access to consistent and appropriate resources for at-risk communities with a particular emphasis on:

·         young people

·         pregnant females and women of childbearing age

·         the health workforce servicing these areas


Antenatal care

Ensuring consistent recommendations for:

·         repeat testing during pregnancy among females at high risk of infection and

·         improving the management of perinatal syphilis.


In addition to the four priority areas, the Action Plan recognises the importance of monitoring the progress of key actions by the Governance Group as well as ongoing monitoring and evaluation through the five National BBV and STI strategies. Monitoring and evaluation plans for the new 2018 to 2022 strategies will be developed in consultation with the state and territory governments and partners.

Note: The Sixth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections Strategy for 2023-2030 are currently in consultation and will be released in 2023. 

National and Jurisdictional Syphilis Guidelines

Jurisdictional guidelines for syphilis testing and clinical management protocols


Title of Guideline (including website link)


Syphilis Series of National Guidelines (SoNG),

Developed by CDNA and updated in August 2018, provides nationally consistent guidelines for public health units in responding to syphilis.

Pregnancy care guidelines within SoNG: Syphilis Chapter of the Pregnancy Care Guidelines

In addition, the updated in 2019, includes strengthened recommendations for testing females during pregnancy.

Australian STI Management Guidelines for Primary Care. 

STI/HIV Testing Guidelines for MSM

Western Australia

The Silver Book

Northern Territory

CARPA Standard Treatment Manual

Women's Business Manual

NT Guidelines for the Management of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the Primary Health Care setting


Communicable Diseases Control Guidance and Information : A-Z

Primary Clinical Care Manual (PCCM)

Syphilis in Pregnancy (SiP) Guidelines

South Australia

South Australian STI Guidelines

Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia STI BBV handbook

Examples of jurisdictional responses