A new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, or MMWR, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that men who have sex with men are driving a spike in new syphilis cases in the US.
In 2000 the rate of confirmed syphilis cases was a little over 2 in 100,000 but by 2015 that rate had nearly quadrupled to 7.5 cases per 100,000. More than 80% of those cases were in the demographic known as MSM, or men who have sex with men.
What Syphilis Is
Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by Treponema pallidum. It is less frequently diagnosed than gonorrhea but more commonly diagnosed than HIV. It is usually found through a blood test.
Syphilis is most often sexually transmitted and can be spread through oral, anal or vaginal sex. However, it can also be passed from an expectant mother to a fetus before birth. This is why all pregnant women are tested for the infection during their first prenatal appointment and, if deemed to be at a high risk, retested toward the end of pregnancy.
The CDC currently recommends that men who have sex with men be screened yearly and be given prompt, effective treatment.
For individuals, medical experts recommend sexual abstinence or the regular and correct use of condoms unless you are absolutely sure that you are in a monogamous relationship with someone who has been tested and proven to be uninfected.
Photo Credit: US Centers for Disease Control
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