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Report links many syphilis cases among gay men to oral sex

Report links many syphilis cases among gay men to oral sex

A report published this week by the Chicago Department of Public Health shows that about 20% of the newly diagnosed syphilis cases occurring among gay men in the city from 2000 to 2002 were linked to oral sex. Overall, about 14% of new primary and secondary syphilis cases in the city among both heterosexual and gay men and women in the city were linked to oral sex, according to the study, which was published in the October 22 edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. About 20% of the gay and bisexual men in Chicago infected with syphilis from 2000 to 2002 reported having had only oral sex. Of the gay men exposed to syphilis through oral sex, 54% also already had been diagnosed with HIV infection, 32% were unaware of their HIV serostatus, and 14% had received negative HIV antibody tests. The researchers say that while oral sex does carry significantly lower risks for HIV infection, many people falsely believe it to also poses lower risks for all other STDs, including syphilis. They call on health departments to educate at-risk communities about the danger of acquiring syphilis through oral sex and to urge the use of condoms for oral sex.

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