Gay Men Target of Syphilis Prevention Efforts
May 16, 2006
CDC recently unveiled its updated National Plan to Eliminate Syphilis, which addresses a dramatic rise in infections among men who have sex with men. Among US syphilis cases, the proportion of MSM jumped from 5 percent in 1999 to 64 percent in 2004, according to findings presented May 8 at the 2006 National STD Prevention Conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
The updated plan includes "an innovative and comprehensive strategy to stem the tide of rising infections among men who have sex with men," Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, told the conference.
The plan calls for investment in and enhancement of public health services to help fight syphilis outbreaks. It asks local health providers to devise an outbreak response plan to "address rapid local increases in syphilis as occurred among men who have sex with men in some US cities over the past several years."
Many health care providers perform limited assessments of patients' sexual history, including recent homosexual behavior, "but by the end of 2006, all public health departments across the country will be gathering that information," said Fenton.
Gay men who contract syphilis often have worse clinical outcomes than other people because the infection is diagnosed at later stages, researchers told the conference. "Delayed diagnosis among men who have sex with men may result in continued risk behavior during the period in which syphilis can be most easily transmitted," said Dr. John M. Douglas Jr., director of CDC's STD prevention division.
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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.