Syphilis, the sexual scourge of the 19th century, was all but vanquished in Europe in the fifties. But it's making a comeback, with 2006 UK infection rates 10 times what they were a decade earlier, and other nations boasting similar stats. Health officials blame the upsurge on the rise of online dating sites and "safe sex fatigue" after the HIV awareness campaigns of the nineties.
"The evidence points to an increase in unsafe sexual behavior since anti-retrovirals for AIDS came along in 1996," said one public health analyst. While gay urban men are the population at highest risk, the disease has made a comeback in straight men and women as well, which could lead to a resurgence of congenital syphilis.