San Francisco Health Officials Announce Plan To Combat Syphilis Among Gay, Bisexual Men
San Francisco health officials and gay community group leaders on Thursday announced a plan to address the city's growing syphilis epidemic among gay and bisexual men, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/26). According to the city's Department of Public Health, 750 new syphilis cases are expected to be reported in 2003 in San Francisco, which would mark a 50% increase over the number of newly reported cases in 2002, according to the AP/San Francisco Chronicle. About two-thirds of the new syphilis cases are among HIV-positive individuals, suggesting that people are having unprotected sex despite knowing that they are HIV-positive. Dr. Jeffery Klausner, director of sexually transmitted disease control for the city's public health department, said, "Many people have lost their awareness or appreciation of syphilis as a health problem." He added that many people with syphilis do not tell their doctors about their sexual practices and therefore are not tested for syphilis or other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV (Lydon, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/25). HIV/AIDS advocates and health officials said that the increase in the number of newly reported syphilis cases is linked to "prevention message fatigue," and they say that some men are not using condoms regularly, due in part to the increased availability of antiretroviral drugs, the Chronicle reports. The city's plan calls for increasing the number of syphilis testing sites -- including a new gay men's health center in the Castro district of the city -- and increasing awareness among gay and bisexual men and their doctors about STD testing (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.