A new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows rates for sexually transmitted diseases rising between 2011-2012, the most recent year for which data is available, with higher infection rates concentrated among young people and gay or bisexual men.
The CDC’s annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance report shows that infection for primary and secondary syphilis had increased 11 percent — entirely among men — a 15 percent increase for men who have sex with men (MSM) and four percent increase for men who have sex with women (MSW). In fact, incidences among MSM account for 75 percent of syphilis cases. Also, according to the report, data from several major cities indicate that 40 percent of MSM diagnosed with syphilis were coinfected with HIV.
The report also speculates on the cause of the rise in syphilis among MSM:
Although a number of individual risk behaviors (such as higher numbers of lifetime sex partners or unprotected sex) contribute to disparities in the sexual health of MSM, other social and cultural factors may also play a role. For example, MSM with lower economic status may have limited access to health care and therefore may be particularly vulnerable to poorer health outcomes compared to other men. Complex issues like homophobia and stigma can also make it difficult for gay and bisexual men to seek appropriate care and treatment.