Some MSM With Syphilis Using Internet To Meet Sex Partners; Trend Raises Concerns About Possible Increase in HIV Cases
July 30, 2003
Men who have sex with men in California who contracted syphilis through unprotected sex used the Internet "more than any other venue" to meet sex partners, according to two studies presented yesterday at the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, Long Island Newsday reports. Some health officials are concerned because the risk factors for syphilis and HIV are similar, and a recent increase in syphilis cases in larger cities could be a "harbinger of a new spike in HIV/AIDS cases," Newsday reports. Researchers examined 1,697 routine surveillance and contact tracing interviews completed by California health outreach workers on MSM with syphilis from January 2001 through June 2003. Approximately 66% of the respondents interviewed in 2002 said they were also HIV-positive, according to Terrence Lo, a California Department of Health epidemiologist. Researchers found that the use of online chat rooms, personal ads and ads for "sex parties" increased more than threefold since the first half of 2001; 40% of respondents said they used the Internet to find sex partners during the first six months of 2003. In another study, University of California-San Francisco Center for AIDS Prevention Studies researchers led by Gregory Rebchook conducted online interviews with 91 MSM who said they had met a sex partner through the Internet (Rabin, Long Island Newsday, 7/30). Researchers found that 39% of respondents -- 11% of whom were HIV-positive -- said they had had unprotected anal sex with someone they met online within the previous two months, Reuters reports.
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.