Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The syphilis rate among U.S. men soared 81 percent between 2000 and 2004, primarily as a result of increases in reported cases among homosexual males, federal health officials reported yesterday.
While the rate among men nearly doubled during that time - from 2.6 per 100,000 to 4.7 - the syphilis rate among women fell from 1.7 to 0.8 per 100,000 from 2000 to 2003. It remained stable in 2004, marking the end of a 13-year decline.
"The vast majority of the increase is attributable to a resurgence of syphilis among men who have sex with men ... syphilis rates continue to increase among [this group]," said Dr. J.F. Beltrami and other authors of a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention.
They also pointed out that sexually active bisexual men "likely contribute to syphilis among women."
Of the nearly 8,000 cases reported in 2004, "approximately 84 percent occurred among men," they wrote, and the CDC estimates that nearly 65 percent of those cases resulted from men having sex with other men.
The authors also said reported increases in incidence of syphilis among homosexual behavior have been characterized "by high rates of HIV co-infection, high-risk sexual behavior and use of drugs such as methamphetamines."
"Syphilis increases have occurred among [homosexual and bisexual men] who have met sex partners in Internet chat rooms," the researchers said. They stressed the need for more study of how the Internet affects the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and how it might be used as an STD prevention tool. …