Syphilis Infections Rising Among Gay Men in Minnesota
The Minnesota Health Department sent out alerts on Friday to 300 clinics and community organizations warning that syphilis infections among gay men are rising, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. There have been 16 new cases of syphilis in Minnesota this year, but the majority of these infections have occurred among gay men and half of the men are HIV-positive, according to the state health department. A rise in syphilis is "particularly worrisome" to health officials because syphilis outbreaks are "viewed as a harbinger" of increasing HIV infections and because syphilis infection can increase the risk of HIV transmission (Marcotty/Howatt, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5/17). The Minnesota Health Department last month released data indicating that new HIV infections among white men in the state increased by 40% last year, with most of the new infections occurring among gay and bisexual men (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/17). Syphilis infection among minorities, however, seems to have declined. Although the majority of syphilis cases reported in Minnesota last year occurred among blacks, blacks represented only five of the 16 infections recorded this year.
Reaching Gay Men
Health officials say that safe sex and STD prevention messages need to reach gay and bisexual men. "We have to go back to the education we were doing before. Whatever the cause, the use of condoms is not as adequate as it should be," Dr. Hanan Rosenstein, a physician with the Doctors Clinic in Minneapolis, said. Lorraine Teel, executive director of the Minnesota AIDS Project, said that although state officials have worked to bring prevention messages to minority groups, they must also make an effort to reach gay men. "This is where the epidemic has been, is, and frankly, will be for some time," she said (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5/17).