Syphilis Up in Black, Hispanic Men Having Sex With Men

Primary, secondary syphilis rates have increased more among black, Hispanic, and young men

TUESDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The rates of primary and secondary syphilis in 27 U.S. states have increased more among black and Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM) (compared to white MSM), and also among young MSM, according to a study published in the Aug. 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

John R. Su, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues investigated trends in primary and secondary syphilis among MSM of different races or ethnicities from 27 U.S. states. Data reporting gender of the sex partners for 70 percent or more of male cases of primary and secondary syphilis between 2005 and 2008 were reviewed from the National Electronic Telecommunications System for Surveillance. Cases of primary and secondary syphilis per 100,000 males (rates) of matching race or ethnicity from the National Center for Health Statistics were assessed to compare age, racial, and ethnic differences.

The investigators found significantly different trends in rates of primary and secondary syphilis. Compared to white MSM, the increase in absolute rates was 8.0 and 2.4 times more for blacks and Hispanics, respectively. Rates based on regions increased by 30 percent in the Midwest, 48 percent in the South, 73 percent in the Northeast, and 77 percent in the West. The group aged between 10 and 29 years was found to have the largest absolute increase in rates.

"Rates of primary and secondary syphilis disproportionately increased among black and Hispanic MSM (compared with white MSM) and among young MSM," the authors write.

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