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Chicago Reports Syphilis Cases Increase Among Gay Men

September 6, 2001

Alarmed by a spike in syphilis infection among gay men, the Chicago Department of Public Health on Wednesday urged gay men and anyone with symptoms of syphilis to be tested and treated. This year's spike, seen largely in the gay communities of Uptown, Lakeview and Rogers Park, is doubly dangerous because syphilis also greatly increases a person's chances of getting and transmitting HIV.

"Syphilis is like gasoline on HIV transmission," said department spokesperson Daniel Ash, noting that in about half of the 61 syphilis cases identified this year, the person also had HIV. The Health Department has identified 61 cases in gay men this year, compared with 44 in all of 2000. Among all residents, the city saw 292 cases last year, down from 2,045 cases in 1991. John Wilhelm, public health commissioner, said the rise in syphilis cases stemmed in part from an increasing tendency among gay men to be less concerned about safe sex as AIDS treatment improves.

Back to other CDC news for September 6, 2001

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Adapted from:
Chicago Tribune
09.06.01; Karen Rivedal

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Syphilis -- a Dreadful Disease on the Move
Syphilis Fact Sheet
More Statistics on Syphilis in Midwestern U.S. States