New syphilis cases are up in Massachusetts, with most of the new infections occurring among gay and bisexual men, The Boston Globe reports. Of the 197 cases reported in 2002, 113--nearly 60%--were reported among gay or bisexual men. The Massachusetts outbreak, concentrated in Boston, follows similar outbreaks of the sexually transmitted disease in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and other cities.
"Once an infection is well-established in a particular population, it can spread very easily and quickly," said John Auerbach, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "The challenge is always to mobilize when the numbers are small enough so that a disease does not become firmly entrenched." Health officials are worried that the new infections are a sign that more gay men are engaging in unprotected sex, which could result in a rise in HIV infections as well.