Originally published on Advocate.com February 07 2004 1:00 AM ET
Illegal drug use and having anonymous sex in a bathhouse are associated with increased risks of rectal gonorrhea for gay men in San Francisco, according to a study in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases. For HIV-positive gay men, anonymous sex in bathhouses was most strongly linked to the sexually transmitted disease; for HIV-negative men, drug use, particularly drugs in the amphetamine class, was linked with boosted gonorrhea risks. Doctors at a sexual health clinic in the city screened 564 gay and bisexual men for the STD, and 7% of the men tested positive for it. When the statistics were broken down to include only HIV-positive gay men, more than 15% were infected with rectal gonorrhea.
HIV-positive gay men reporting anonymous anal sex with sex partners they met at bathhouses within the prior two weeks were shown to be significantly more likely than those who did not attend bathhouses to be infected with gonorrhea. Sex while high on drugs remained significantly associated with a rectal gonorrhea infection for HIV-negative men. The researchers note that because the prevalence of rectal gonorrhea was high among their study subjects, sexually active gay men should be screened for gonorrhea and other STDs as part of regular check-ups and during any visit to a sexual health clinic.