Health officials in Hawaii report that both syphilis and gonorrhea infection rates are up among Hawaii residents, with the rising rates possibly foreshadowing increases in HIV cases. There were 744 reported cases of gonorrhea in the state last year, a 23.4% increase over 2001 and a 60% increase over 1999. Also, there were 64 reported cases of syphilis, a 68.4% increase over 2003 levels. Many of the new infections were identified among young people and gay and bisexual men.
Peter Whiticar, chief of the state health department's Sexually Transmitted Diseases/AIDS Prevention Branch, said that the effectiveness of AIDS treatments has lessened the public's fear of the disease and could be leading to increases in risky sex that have resulted in the new STD infections. "Younger people don't relate to HIV and AIDS as being as deadly as it was earlier," he said.