Health officials in Germany say increases in newly diagnosed cases of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases in large German cities signal an increase in unprotected sex and could be a precursor to rising HIV infection rates in the country, Reuters Health reports. Osawah Hamouda, head of HIV/AIDS at Berlin-based Robert Koch Institut, the German version of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said unprotected sex is on the rise in the country, particularly among youth, who did not experience the "AIDS shock" of the mid 1980s. There were about 1,100 new syphilis cases in Germany in the first half of 2002, up from 756 in the first half of last year.
Hamouda blamed part of the rise in unprotected sex and STD infections on diminished efforts to promote condom use. "We must not allow these efforts to weaken," he said. "We must not allow the full coverage of AIDS programs to develop more and more and bigger and bigger holes."