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Medical News

Trends in Primary and Secondary Syphilis Among Men Who Have Sex With Men in the United States

June 25, 2007

The researchers assessed the epidemiology of primary and secondary syphilis in the United States and estimated the percentages of cases occurring among men who have sex with men (MSM). The authors reviewed US syphilis surveillance data from 1990 to 2003. They estimated the number of cases occurring among MSM by modeling changes in the ratio of syphilis cases among men to cases among women.

The investigators found that from 1990 through 2000, the rate of primary and secondary syphilis decreased 90 percent overall, declining 90 percent among men and 89 percent among women. Between 2000 and 2003, the overall rate increased 19 percent, reflecting a 62 percent increase among men and a 53 percent decrease among women. In 2003, an estimated 62 percent of reported cases occurred among MSM.

"Increasing syphilis cases among MSM account for most of the recent overall increase in rates and may be a harbinger of increasing rates of HIV infection among MSM," the authors concluded. "National efforts are underway to improve monitoring of syphilis trends, better understand factors associated with the observed increases, and improve efforts to prevent syphilis transmission."

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Adapted from:
American Journal of Public Health
6.2007; Vol. 97; No. 6: P. 1076-1083; James D. Heffelfinger, MD, MPH; Emmett B. Swint, MS; Stuart M. Berman, MD, ScM; Hillard S. Weinstock, MD, MPH

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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.
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