Syphilis is on the rise in the United States for the first time in more than a decade, largely because of outbreaks among gay and bisexual men in several U.S. cities, the government reported Thursday. The syphilis rate increased from 2.1 cases per 100,000 people in 2000 to 2.2 cases per 100,000 last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate had been dropping every year since 1990. More than two thirds of the new syphilis patients were male, the majority of them being men who have sex with men.
"Syphilis cases occurring among men who have sex with men contributed to the increase in cases," the CDC reported. The increase follows government warnings earlier this year that gay and bisexual men may be letting their guard down regarding sexually transmitted diseases. Syphilis outbreaks have been documented among gay and bisexual men in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, and Miami since 1997.