Minnesota Health Department issues second syphilis warning
The Minnesota Health Department for the second time this year has issued a public health alert about the increase in the number of syphilis cases reported to more than 300 clinics and community organizations in the state, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. New cases of syphilis are up nearly 60% during the first eight months of 2002 compared with last year, with 68% of the new cases reported this year occurring among gay or bisexual men, a 10-fold increase in that group over 2001 levels.
Health officials say the rise in syphilis infections is alarming because it indicates that unsafe sexual practices are on the rise. They also say they expect to see increasing HIV infection rates in the state due to the rise in unprotected sex and because syphilis infection can boost a person's risk of contracting HIV by two to five times because the open sores associated with the STD make it easier for HIV to enter the body.