Alaska Investigating Recent Outbreak of Syphilis Primarily Among MSM
Alaska health officials are investigating an outbreak of six cases of syphilis that were reported between Sept. 15 and Dec. 10 in the state and were spread primarily among men who have sex with other men, according to a state Section of Epidemiology bulletin issued on Monday, the Anchorage Daily News reports (Potempa, Anchorage Daily News, 12/14). Several of the men might have contracted syphilis outside of the state, and the outbreak involves men who have had unprotected sex with both men and women, according to the bulletin (AP/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 12/15). Five of the men with syphilis live in Anchorage, and one man lives in Southeast, Alaska. All of the men are between the ages of 21 and 42, according to the Daily News. State health officials are working with the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services to find all of the sexual partners of the men in order to speak with them confidentially and encourage them to get tested for the sexually transmitted disease. The Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association over the weekend began distributing fliers and making announcements at bars to "encourage safe sex and testing," Trevor Storrs, the group's executive director, said, the Daily News reports. Anchorage has not reported any syphilis cases "in the past several years," Cathy Feaster, program manager for ADHHS' Reproductive Health Clinic, said. Because it has been nearly 10 years since Alaska had a period with more than two reported cases of syphilis, six cases in less than three months is an "unusual event," Beth Funk, acting state epidemiologist, said. Several major cities -- including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle -- also have reported recent outbreaks of syphilis among MSM, according to the bulletin, the Daily News reports (Anchorage Daily News, 12/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.