According to Gail Bolan, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control, said that the among homosexual males, the rate of syphilis infection has increased to a level not seen since the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of more than 30 years ago.
Speaking yesterday on Capitol Hill, Bolan said, “We’re concerned about our high levels of syphilis among men who have sex with men – really we’re back to the level of disease – burden of disease – in gay men that we were seeing before HIV in this country.”
Indeed, the CDC reported in a fact-sheet two years ago that its surveillance on STDs found a “troubling rise in syphilis infections among men, particularly gay and bisexual men.” It said, “Trend data show rates of syphilis are increasing at an alarming rate (15.1 percent in 2014).” The fact-sheet said, “While rates have increased among both men and women, men account for more than 90 percent of all primary and secondary syphilis cases.” The CDC went on to say, “Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for 83 percent of male cases where the sex of the sex partner is known…Primary and secondary syphilis are the most infectious stages of the disease, and if not adequately treated, can lead to long-term infection, which can cause visual impairment and stroke.”
“Syphilis infection can also place a person at increased risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection,” it said. “Available surveillance data indicate that an average of half of MSM who have syphilis are also infected with HIV.”
Bolan was on Capitol Hill to seek additional funding for preventing the spread of STDs.
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