MGRM flags increase in syphilis cases, Malta has highest rate in Europe

2020 report finds 85 confirmed cases in Malta, making it highest rate per 100,000 population across Europe

The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) has flagged an increased spread of syphilis among the public, citing reports from the Mater Dei genitourinary (GU) clinic.

“We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic presents a challenging time for all members of our community. As we strive to connect, we need to remain mindful of the importance of reducing physical contact to break the circuit and minimise the spread of COVID-19 and Sexual Transmitted Infections,” the NGO said.

The MGRM, along with Allied Rainbow Communities, Checkpoint Malta, LGBTI+ Gozo and Preping Malta encouraged sexually active persons to get tested and practise safer sex. “We reiterate our call for a National Sexual Health Strategy based on scientific evidence and the needs of the population.”

A 2020 European Centre for Monitoring of Diseases surveillance report on syphilis found 85 confirmed cases in 2018 in Malta, translating to 17.9 persons per 100,000 population. The rate has almost doubled: in 2014, it was 11.4, with just 48 reported cases.

This is highest rate in Europe, with Luxembourg following with a rate of 17.1, which has a small population size like Malta, and therefore rates can appear proportionately larger; and the UK (12.6).

The report found that in Malta men tended to contract syphilis at much higher rates than women. This trend was also found in Germany, Ireland, and the UK.

Information on testing

  • For testing: book an appointment at the GU Clinic by calling +356 2545 7491, Monday to Friday between 7 am and 4 pm.
  • For prevention: and to find other important information about STIs, including HIV, visit
  • For support: on STIs or drug use, you can get in touch with the Rainbow Support Service (RSS) on +356 79430006 (inc. Whatsapp). RSS is a free service run by a team of social workers and counsellors specialising in LGBTIQ+ issues and drug use. RSS can also be reached on [email protected] or via social media.