CDC: 75.5% of Syphilis Cases in 2014 Among Gay Men 'Where Sex of Sex Partner Was Known'

Michael W. Chapman | November 25, 2015 | 10:48am EST
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(AP photo.) 

( – A new report on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States shows that the number of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis all increased in 2014, and some of the most prominent increases occurred among blacks, American Indians, and homosexuals.

The report, Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2014, documents that last year there were 1,441,789 cases of chlamydia infection reported to the CDC. That translates into 456.1 cases per 100,000 population, which is an increase in the infection rate of 2.8% over the rate in 2013. 

Further, the CDC reported that in 2014, “the chlamydia rate in blacks was 6 times the rate in whites, and the rate among American Indians/Alaska Natives was almost 4 times the rate among whites.”

For gonorrhea infection, a total of 350,062 cases were reported in 2014, an infection rate increase from 105.3 per 100,000 population in 2013 to 110.7 cases per 100,000 population last year.

The increase in gonorrhea infection was primarily among men, said the CDC, and was “highest among blacks.”

“The rate among blacks was 10.6 times the rate among whites,” said the CDC, and for infection among American Indians/Alaska Natives, the infection rate was 4.2 times that of whites.

Secondary syphilis.

(Wikipedia Commons.) 

As for primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis, there were 19,999 cases reported in 2014.  That equaled a rate of 6.3 cases per 100,000 population, “the highest rate since 1994,” said the CDC, and an increase of 15.1% over 2013.

“During 2000-2014, the rise in the P&S syphilis rate was primarily attributable to increased cases among men and, specifically, among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (collectively referred to as MSM),” reported the CDC.

In 2014, reported the health agency, “men accounted for 91% of all cases of P&S syphilis. And, of those male cases for whom sex of sex partner was known, 83% were MSM.”

83% of 91% equals 75.53%, which means that 75.53% of syphilis cases in 2014 were among homosexual men. 

Further, “reported cases of P&S syphilis continued to be characterized by a high rate of HIV co-infection, particularly among MSM,” said the CDC. In fact, 51% of the homosexual men diagnosed with syphilis in 2014 were also HIV-positive.

“Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are at increased risk for STDs … when compared to women and exclusively heterosexual men,” reported the CDC.  “[I]ndividual-level risk behaviors, such as number of lifetime sex partners, rate of partner exchange and frequency of unprotected sex, may contribute to rates of STDs.”

Syphilis.  (Public domain.) 

On its website, the CDC reported, “Syphilis continues to increase among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Recent outbreaks among MSM have been marked by high rates of HIV coinfection and high-risk sexual behaviors (such as sex without a condom, new or multiple partners, and substance abuse). Cases of ocular syphilishave also been reported among MSM. Ocular syphilis occurs when syphilis affects the eye and can lead to permanent blindness. While the health problems caused by syphilis in adults are serious, it is also known that the genital sores caused by syphilis in adults also make it easier to get and give HIV infection sexually.”

Overall, the P&S syphilis rate for blacks was 5.4 times that for whites, and for American Indian/Alaska Native women, the rate was 9-10 times the rate for whites, said the CDC. For congenital syphilis, the rate of infection among blacks was 10 times higher than in whites, said the CDC, and for Hispanics and American Indians, 3 times higher than in whites.

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