$228,425 NIH Grant to Study Syphilis Among Gay Men in Peru

By Melanie Arter | March 11, 2015 | 3:02 PM EDT

Men kiss under a rainbow umbrella during a gay pride parade in Lima, Peru, Saturday, June 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Sebastian Castaneda)

(CNSNews.com) – The National Institutes of Health has awarded $228,425 to the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (translated it means Cayetano Heredia University), a private university in Lima, Peru, to study syphilis among gay men in that country.

“Syphilis remains an uncontrolled infectious disease globally, with high prevalence and incidence in certain high risk populations, affecting more than 20% of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Peru,” the grant abstract stated.

“Syphilis is also an important cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality, and is associated with an increased risk of acquisition and transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus,” it stated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, syphilis is a curable sexually transmitted disease that can also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn baby. The only way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sex, the CDC warned. Condom use can reduce the risk of contracting the disease, but it’s not foolproof, because it can still be spread through contact with parts of the body not covered by a condom.

“Despite its public health importance and easy medical management, the control of syphilis represents a challenge in many low and middle income countries. We have shown recently that syphilis remains poorly controlled with high rates of treatment failure and repeat infection,” the grant stated. “The incidence of syphilis in MSM in Peru is about 9 cases per 100 person-years.

“We are proposing a study to improve our understanding of syphilis epidemiology and molecular biology, particularly among MSM,” it stated.

The study consists of recruiting “a cohort of MSM and transgender persons at high risk for syphilis” with follow-up over two years “to measure incidence rates of syphilis.”

The project start date was listed as Aug. 1, 2014 and continues until July 31, 2017. The budget started on Aug. 1, 2014 and expires on July 31, 2015.

Attempts to contact Carlos Caceres, the project leader of the grant, for comment were unsuccessful.

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