U.S. News


Syphilis Cases Rising, Especially Among Gay Men: CDC

A recently published Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says syphilis cases have doubled from 2005-2013.
Posted at 8:11 PM, May 09, 2014

A new report published this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presents a dire warning to sexually active American men as cases of syphilis are on the rise. 

The CDC reports the sexually transmitted disease has made a comeback after nearly being eliminated at the turn of the century. From 2005-2013, cases reported each year in the U.S. doubled from 8,724 to 16,663. And the annual rate increased from 2.9 to 5.3 cases per 100,000 people. (Via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

According to Vox, "Men accounted for about 91.1 percent of all cases in 2013, according to the CDC." But there's more: "Many of these cases occurred among gay men ... In areas that did report sexuality, 83.9 percent of all syphilis cases in 2012 were attributed to men having sex with men, up from 77.7 percent in 2009."

Forbes adds there's also a correlation between ethnic background and the prevalence of the disease— black men were five times more likely to contract syphilis than white men and black women were 13 times more at risk than white women. 

The CDC doesn't offer an explanation as to why the number of syphilis cases have jumped, but link the rise to risky sexual behaviors, like sex with multiple or anonymous partners. 

The agency adds the increase in syphilis in men who have sex with men is a "major public health concern, particularly because syphilis and the behaviors associated with acquiring it increase the likelihood of acquiring and transmitting [HIV]."

The CDC suggests "syphilis prevention measures for [men who have sex with men]" needs to be strengthened throughout the U.S. It also suggests doctors and patients should do a better job of reporting cases of syphilis, while health officials can curb the spread of the disease in high-risk populations by better reaching out to the LGBTQ community.