Gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in the U.S., mostly in men who have sex with men, a trend the government said is linked to inadequate testing among people stymied by homophobia and limited access to health care.
The rate of new gonorrhea cases rose 4 percent in 2012 from the year before, while syphilis jumped 11 percent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in a report. Rates for chlamydia, the most common of the bacterial sexually transmitted diseases, gained less than 1 percent. While all three diseases are curable with antibiotics, many people don’t get tested as recommended, said Gail Bolan, the director of the CDC’s STD prevention division. That’s especially the case for syphilis, where the rise is entirely attributable to men, particularly those who are gay or bisexual.
“We know that having access to high-quality health care is important to controlling and reducing STDs,” Bolan said in a telephone interview. “Some of our more-vulnerable populations don’t have access. There are a number of men who come in to our clinic for confidential services because they’re too embarrassed to see their primary care doctors.”
The CDC rate for gonorrhea was 107.5 cases out of 100,000 in 2012, while syphilis was 5 cases per 100,000 people. The infections cost the U.S. health-care system about $16 billion every year, according to the report.
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