Study: Internet Fueling Rise of Syphilis Cases Among Gays

By Matthew Van Atta

Originally published on Advocate.com July 14 2008 11:00 PM ET

Experts believe
Internet hookups are helping to fuel a syphilis epidemic
among men who have sex with men. MSMs are more likely to
turn to the Internet to find sex partners than meet
them at bars or clubs, according to a new report by
the Chicago Department of Public Health, reports the
Chicago Tribune.


According to the
health department survey, 34% of men diagnosed with
syphilis last year at city health department STD clinics
claim they met their sex partners on the Internet.

While rates among
heterosexuals have dropped to a historic low, rates
among men who have sex with men have risen in recent
years.


Syphilis is
easily treated with penicillin in its early stages.
Untreated, it can damage internal organs, including the
brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver,
bones, and joints. 


The National
Coalition of STD Directors published national guidelines on
Internet-based interventions to help health departments use
the Web in outreach and prevention programs. (The
Advocate
)