Rise in syphilis attributed to risky gay sex

BY admin

November 10 2005 1:00 AM ET

The national
syphilis rate in the United States increased for the fourth
consecutive year in 2004, according to new data released
Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention on nationally notifiable sexually
transmitted diseases. The report, which provides data on
three STDs—chlamydia, gonorrhea, and
syphilis—also finds that in 2004 the gonorrhea
rate reached an all-time low and chlamydia rates increased,
possibly due to expanded and improved screening.

The national rate
of primary and secondary syphilis—the early stages of
the disease that indicate recent infection—has
increased every year since an all-time low in 2000.
While surveillance data are not available by risk
behavior, a separate CDC analysis suggests that
approximately 64% of all adult syphilis cases in 2004
were among men who have sex with men, up from an
estimated 5% in 1999.

Ronald
Valdiserri, acting director of the CDC's National Center for
HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, said that may be part of
the explanation for the rebound in syphilis, but a
primary reason appears to be an increase in risky
sexual behavior. "It's very clear that for the last
four years, when we've seen an increase it's primarily
been in men and predominantly in men who have sex with
men," Valdiserri said. "We know that's being fueled by
increases in high-risk sexual behavior. We have good
data to substantiate that." CDC officials are hoping
stronger efforts to educate gay men and others about
syphilis will help arrest the infection trend, he
said.

Tags: Health

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