In response to a significant surge in infectious syphilis cases over the past decade, the Alberta government has rolled out the Syphilis Outbreak Action Response (SOAR) grant program. This initiative aims to tackle the growing public health concern by providing funding to community-based organizations dedicated to the prevention, testing and treatment of syphilis.The outbreak, declared in Alberta in 2019, prompted the introduction of targetted measures to curb the spread of the sexually transmitted infection. Syphilis, if left untreated, can cause severe damage to vital organs such as the heart and brain, leading to life-threatening complications. However, the disease is treatable and preventable through education and timely intervention.Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health, emphasized the necessity of taking focused action to address rising syphilis rates in the province."By funding key partners that already work with vulnerable individuals and communities, we can slow the spread of syphilis and ensure appropriate services and care are accessible," she said.The SOAR grant program, launched earlier this year, invited eligible community-based organizations, including indigenous groups, to submit proposals. Eight organizations have been selected to receive funding over the next three years, totaling approximately $6 million. These organizations will develop and implement initiatives targeting populations and geographic areas experiencing higher rates of infectious syphilis and congenital syphilis.The following organizations have been awarded grants:Community-Based Research Centre Society ($315,000)Turning Point Society of Central Alberta ($999,000)SafeLink Alberta Society ($825,000)Centre for Sexuality Society ($600,000)HIV Network of Edmonton Society ($861,000)Boyle McCauley Health Centre Society ($1.06 million)Northreach Society ($1.2 million)Sandy Beach Ki Mamow Atoskanow Foundation ($190,000)Catherine Broomfield, executive director of the HIV Network of Edmonton, expressed gratitude for the funding and highlighted the collaborative efforts with local organizations. "We see a harmonized approach to supporting Albertans to access testing, treatment, support and education to lower transmission rates and eliminate congenital syphilis," she said.The funded projects will focus on increasing awareness of syphilis and sexual well-being, enhancing testing services, improving access to culturally safe care and management and working towards the elimination of congenital syphilis.Quick Facts:In 2022, reported rates of infectious syphilis increased in all Alberta Health Services (AHS) zones except Edmonton Zone.The North Zone and Edmonton Zone currently experience the highest rates, with the South Zone witnessing a significant 90% increase.A total of 3,328 cases of infectious syphilis were reported in the province in 2022.Between 2018 and 2022, 273 cases of congenital syphilis were diagnosed, posing severe risks to newborns, including stillbirth and various health complications.Congenital syphilis can lead to outcomes such as bone deformations, hearing loss, blindness, low birth weight, premature birth and stillbirth.