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Syphilis cases
increase 40% in Los Angeles

Syphilis cases
increase 40% in Los Angeles

Gay and bisexual men account for two thirds of new syphilis cases in Los Angeles.

The number of new syphilis cases diagnosed in 2005 in Los Angeles County rose 40% over the number of new diagnoses in 2004, according to a report by the county health department, the Los Angeles Times reports. Two thirds of the new diagnoses in 2005 were among gay and bisexual men, according to the report. A total of 1,217 syphilis cases were reported in the county in 2005, up from 865 in 2004. Men who have sex with men accounted for 809 of the new cases reported in 2005.

New diagnoses rose 56% among women, 49% among African-Americans, 42% among Latinos, and 29% among whites in 2005.

Health officials say part of the reason for the increase in syphilis diagnoses is that a $1 million syphilis awareness campaign, called "Stop the Sores," that launched in the county in 2002 has prompted more people at risk for the sexually transmitted disease to seek testing for it. Peter Kerndt, director of the county's STD program, also told the Times it is possible bisexual men could be contributing to the rise in infections among women by picking up the STD from their male sex partners and passing it to their female sex partners.

Kerndt says the health department is considering launching a new syphilis awareness campaign aimed at residents of Hollywood, West Hollywood, and south Los Angeles, which are home to large numbers of gay and bisexual men and people of color who are at risk for the STD. (The Advocate)

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