Friday, May 04, 2007

CDC warns resurgence of syphilis could fuel spread of HIV/AIDS


Syphilis has risen sharply among gay and bisexual men in the United States this decade, driving up the country’s rate for the disease and placing these men at higher risk for AIDS, federal health officials say.

Since dropping to the lowest level on record in 2000, the U.S. rate of syphilis, a sexually transmitted bacterial disease, has risen steadily, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said on Friday.

The rate rose five years in a row through 2005, the most recent year for which the CDC had figures.

Gay and bisexual men accounted for 7 percent of syphilis cases in 2000 but more than 60 percent in 2005, CDC experts estimated.

“The most devastating consequence of this increase in syphilis cases would be an increase in the rates of HIV infection,” said Dr. Khalil Ghanem of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“Syphilis and HIV have a close, deadly symbiotic relationship.”

CDC epidemiologist Dr. James Heffelfinger said syphilis, like many other sexually transmitted diseases, raises the likelihood of infection by or transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.

Syphilis raises these risks by an estimated two to five times, he said.

Majority of US syphilis cases are now in gay men

Primary and Secondary Syphilis --- United States, 2003--2004


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