S.F. doctors report increase of syphilis

The Associated Press
Sunday October 28, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A significant rise in syphilis infections is being driven by gay men having unprotected sex with multiple partners, according to city public health officials. 

At 116 reported infections this year through September, the caseload may not be overwhelming — but the rise is precipitous. The city’s department of public health reported just 39 cases in 1998, 47 in 1999 and 71 in 2000. 

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can be treated with penicillin. The telltale sore often goes unnoticed, however, and over time, it can damage organs. 

The number of infections more than doubled among gay and bisexual men from 2000, according to a report city officials will deliver Saturday at the Infectious Diseases Society of America meeting in San Francisco. 

There have been 93 cases among gay or bisexual men so far this year, up from 47 last year. There were just 10 such reported cases in 1998. 

The study suggests the rise comes because gay and bisexual men are having unprotected sex with unfamiliar partners they meet in sex clubs and adult bookstores, and on the Internet. The 93 men reported having 1,225 sexual partners and could identify only 8 percent of them by name. 

Similar syphilis spikes have been reported in San Diego, Florida, Boston and Chicago, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. 


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