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Syphilis cases
post sharp drop in San Francisco

Syphilis cases
post sharp drop in San Francisco

Newly diagnosed syphilis cases in San Francisco are down sharply in 2005, with 27% fewer cases reported the first half of this year compared with the first half of 2004, reports the Bay Area Reporter. The city recorded 251 cases in the first six months of the year, down from 346 in the first six months of 2004, according to a city sexually transmitted disease report. HIV-positive men accounted for 60% of the syphilis cases, according to the report. The report also showed that gonorrhea cases were up slightly and chlamydia cases were down.

Jeffrey Klausner, director of the city health department's office of STD prevention and control, says one of the reasons most of the syphilis cases are occurring among HIV-positive men may be that they are serosorting--seeking other HIV-positive men for unprotected sex. Although this slows the spread of HIV by not exposing HIV-negative men to the virus, it can lead to transmissions of other STDs among HIV-positive men, according to Klausner. Syphilis is also easily transmitted through oral sex.

Klausner also credits several other citywide initiatives for lowering the overall syphilis infection rate in San Francisco, including the launch of a gay health center in the Castro section of the city, rising awareness among health care providers of the need to screen their patients for STDs, and the success of Inspot, an online service that allows city residents testing positive for STDs to alert their sex partners that they may have been exposed and should seek testing and, if necessary, treatment.

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