There are new scary findings about sexually transmitted infections and diseases from the United Kingdom, where cases of syphilis and gonorrhea have jumped 73 percent and 53 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2015. Officials cite "very high rates of STIs among gay men and young adults" as a factor in the rise, according to The Guardian.
The troubling report follows a similar one last year from the U.S.'s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed 2014 syphilis and gonorrhea cases outnumbering those from 2013, the first rise since 2006. Again, MSM (men who have sex with men) were specifically referenced in the findings, which repeated a shocking, underreported fact — potentially fatal syphilis among MSM has been increasing since the year 2000.
The CDC numbers also showed that over half the men diagnosed with syphilis two years ago also had HIV; the genital sores that can develop from syphilis can increase the likelihood of HIV transmission.
An official from Public Health England, which published the recent British report, noted a trend of "condomless sex" that's contributing to the STI/STD increase there. Public Health England is calling for more free condoms as well as increased testing — a drop in chlamydia is viewed as less of a victory and more of a result of fewer young people being tested for the disease.
CDC officials think they know why gay and bisexual men may be more susceptible to STIs and STDs. "Higher prevalence of infection within sexual networks" increases the likelihood of cases, according to a CDC statement from last year, in addition to "barriers to receiving STD services such as lack of access to quality health care, homophobia, or stigma."
The CDC is looking into ways to meet the challenges gay and bi men face and reaching them so testing and safe sex are as routine in the PrEP days of the 2010s as they were in the heady days of the 1980s and '90s.