Majority of ‘Unprecedented’ High Rate of Syphilis Cases Are Gay, Bisexual Men


A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a majority of the record high rates of syphilis found in the United States is due to the sexual activity of gay and bisexual men.

According to the CDC, the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2015 shows, “Ninety percent of reported syphilis cases were in men; and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for a majority of these cases.”

The report states:

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (collectively referred to as MSM) are at increased risk for STDs, including antimicrobial resistant gonorrhea, when compared to women and exclusively heterosexual men. Because STDs, and the behaviors associated with acquiring them, increase the likelihood of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection, STD incidence among MSM may also be an indicator of higher risk for subsequent HIV infection.

Individual-level risk behaviors, such as number of lifetime sex partners, rate of partner exchange and frequency of unprotected sex, may contribute to disparities observed in the sexual health of MSM. However, population-level factors such as limited or overlapping social and sexual networks are also associated with higher rates of STDs, including HIV among MSM.

CDC is recommending that healthcare providers make STD screening a standard part of medical care, “especially in pregnant women.”

The report found overall that, in 2015, “more cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis combined were reported than ever before.”


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