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MILWAUKEE (December 5, 2000) - Many gay and bisexual men lack key information about syphilis, including how to identify signs and symptoms of the sexually transmitted disease (STD), according to a study presented at the National STD Prevention Conference being held Dec. The study comes as increasing evidence - including new studies presented at the STD conference - indicates that the annual incidence of syphilis and other STDs is rising among gay men in a number of U. cities."Syphilis and other STDs that many have long forgotten continue to pose a significant health risk to gay men," said Helene Gayle, M. "Efforts to prevent sexually transmitted diseases must be revitalized and reshaped to stop this increasing toll."Based on a survey of 683 men who have sex with men (MSM) attending a gay event in Chicago, researchers found that 42.5 percent of those surveyed did not know that syphilis facilitates HIV transmission, and 52.3 percent were unaware that syphilis is increasing among gay men in some communities. H., deputy director of CDC's HIV, STD and TB programs, the findings do not imply that gay and bisexual men are less knowledgeable about syphilis than other groups at risk, but are likely indicative of a low level of understanding across the entire population.
H., director of CDC's National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHSTP).
In the month following the awareness campaign, there was an 18 percent increase in the number of gay men evaluated at the city's STD clinic, and there are plans to expand the campaign with the Internet service providers. D., of the AMC Cancer Research Center collaborated with the Denver Public Health Department to conduct a survey to determine whether sexual partners who meet over the Internet are more likely to practice risky sexual behaviors.
Bull and her colleagues analyzed surveys from 4,601 respondents, aged 18 years or older, who were living in North America.
In the summer of 1999, for example, health officials in San Francisco identified an outbreak of syphilis among gay men who had met their sexual partners in an Internet chat room. D., of the San Francisco Department of Health reported on successful efforts to provide STD prevention information through the Internet following this syphilis outbreak.
Handsfield attributed the STD trends to increased frequencies of unsafe sex among MSM, likely related to improvements in treatment, which have resulted in more people living with HIV, as well as the belief among some MSM that HIV is no longer as serious a disease. D., of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues documented high rates of STD risk behaviors among both HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM in Seattle.
Among MSM surveyed at STD clinics, rectal gonorrhea or chlamydia was found in 10.8 percent of HIV-negative men and 14.7 percent of HIV-positive men.
A significant proportion of MSM surveyed acknowledged that they had used drugs in the preceding two months, with higher rates of drug use among HIV-positive men.
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This upward trend contrasts with gonorrhea rates seen in heterosexual men visiting the clinic, which fell from 8.2 percent in 1995 to 5.7 percent in 1999.