POZLife: Life from the Infected and Effected point of veiw.

Syphilis On The Rise In Europe

Posted by pozlife on December 20, 2007

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 20, 2007 – 1:00 pm ET

(London) There has been a marked increase in the number of new cases of syphilis in Europe health authorities said Thursday, warning it could be an indication of an impending spike in the number of people contracting HIV.

"Syphilis used to be a very rare disease," Dr. Marita van de Laar, an expert in sexually transmitted diseases at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control told the Associated Press. "I’m not sure we can say that anymore."

Most of the new cases van de Laar said were in gay men, adding that it indicated more risky sex.

In Britain, syphilis cases have increased more than tenfold in the past decade to 3,702 in 2006, according to the Health Protection Agency. Among men in England, the syphilis rate jumped from one per 100,000 in 1997 to nine per 100,000 last year.

In Germany, the rate among men was fewer than two per 100,000 in 1991; by 2003, it was six per 100,000.

In France, there were 428 cases in 2003 — almost 16 times the number just three years earlier.

In the Netherlands, cases doubled from 2000 to 2004. In Amsterdam, up to 31 men per 100,000 were infected, while the rate was much lower in other regions.

Similar trends have been seen in the United States.

In 2000, syphilis infection rates were so low that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention embarked on a plan to eliminate the disease. But about 9,800 cases were reported in 2006.

Between 2005 and 2006 the rate rose from 2.9 cases per 100,000 people to 3.3, a 14 percent increase.

Syphilis is passed through direct contact with a syphilis sore during sexual activity. Contrary to popular belief, the disease cannot be spread through contact with toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, shared clothing or eating utensils.

Many people infected with syphilis do not have any symptoms for years, yet remain at risk for late complications if they are not treated.

The increase in syphilis shows a decline in condom use. Because symptoms for syphilis show up sooner than HIV researchers warn that an increase in risky sex is likely to produce a higher number of cases of HIV.

Research in the US and Europe indicates many gay men are suffering from "safe sex fatigue." Gay men in particular are seen to believe that modern drugs have made the disease "manageable" and no longer a threat to life.

The increase in hookups via the internet is also seen as promoting risky sex.

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