Officials say increase in syphilis rates may not be linked to HIV infections
May 26 2004 12:00 AM ET
Health officials in San Francisco attempting to explain why syphilis rates are soaring among gay and bisexual men but HIV infection levels have remained steady suggest the disparity may be caused by HIV-positive men primarily seeking sex partners who also are HIV-positive, AIDS Alert reports. Studies and surveys conducted by the researchers show that many HIV-positive men seeking casual sex partners, particularly through the Internet, are specifically seeking other HIV-positive men so that they can have unprotected sex without fear of infecting negative sex partners. HIV-negative men also may be deliberately seeking other HIV-negative sex partners so that they can engage in unprotected sex, according to the study. "If persons who are the same HIV serostatus are in the same networks so that positives are having unprotected sex with positives and negatives with negatives, then you could see an increase in syphilis transmission without an increase in HIV transmission," says Willi McFarland, director of HIV/AIDS statistics and epidemiology for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.