Gonorrhea and Syphilis Rates On the Rise in Oregon, Especially Among Gay and Bisexual Men
A "surprising increase" in gonorrhea and syphilis rates in Oregon has been reported over the past year, with gay and bisexual men accounting for a "disproportionate number of cases," according to the state Health Division, the Oregonian reports. Gonorrhea rose 15% to 1,039 cases in 2000, and 31 cases of syphilis were reported last year, compared with 14 in 1999. The number of gay or bisexual men with gonorrhea rose from 122 cases in 1999 to 165 in 2000; by June of this year, 112 cases were already reported. Ten of the 31 people infected with syphilis have identified themselves as men who have sex with men. "The increase simply reinforces the concept that STDs are out there and still occur in people who have multiple sex partners and choose to have unprotected sex," Oregon's HIV/STD/TB prevention program Medical Director Dr. Mark Loveless said, adding, "We have continued prevention work to do." In response to the rising disease rates, health officials and activists are renewing efforts to promote safer sex in the gay community, visiting chat rooms popular among local gay men to promote testing and treatment for STDs. The Health Division also requested from the CDC a $82,000 grant to gather information on risk perceptions and sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men. Syphilis and gonorrhea are referred to as "surrogate markers" for HIV, because an individual infected with either STD has a two to five times greater risk of HIV infection, the CDC says (English, Oregonian, 7/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.