All Rights reserved
Syphilis cases among gay men in Sydney, Australia, increased more than 10-fold between 1999 and 2003, leading health officials in the nation to warn that the sexually transmitted disease is poised to reach epidemic status among men who have sex with men, the Australian Associated Press reports. Only six cases of syphilis were reported in Sydney in 1999, with the number of cases reported rising to 57 in 2003. Of the gay men diagnosed in 2003, 64% reported having more than 10 sexual partners in the previous six months, many of whom were met at sex clubs and bathhouses. More than 90% of the men reported having oral sex with casual partners, and half believed they became infected with syphilis through oral sex. Health officials say that while oral sex carries far lower HIV risks than anal sex, it does carry high risks for syphilis infection and other STDs.