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The number of new syphilis cases diagnosed in the United Kingdom has soared more than 2,000% since 1995, with most of the new infections diagnosed since 2000 occurring among gay and bisexual men, London's The Guardian reports. U.K. Health Protection Agency figures shows that while only 20 new syphilis cases were diagnosed among gay men in 1996, that number climbed to 1,445 in 2005. Sixty percent of all the male syphilis cases diagnosed in the United Kingdom in 2005 were among men who have sex with men. Chlamydia and human papillomavirus infections also were up in the United Kingdom, according to the government report, but gonorrhea cases declined 13% in 2005.
Health officials worry that the rising syphilis rates indicate that safer-sex campaigns in the nation are inadequate and that many people are putting themselves at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases by engaging in unprotected sex.
"The big deal is HIV severely disrupts the immune system and can kill; human papillomavirus can give you cancer; chlamydia can make you sterile; syphilis can cause brain disease and can cause congenital malformations, and that's just a sample," Peter Boriello, director of the health agency's center for infections, told The Guardian. "We need to shatter the complacency that exists among young people." (The Advocate)