A troubling report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which watched “49 HIV-infected gay and bisexual men who had ‘symptomatic early neurosyphilis'” and found that the driving force behind both new regular syphilis infections and neurosyphilis (which can lead to blindness and stroke) is unprotected sex between gay men.
Said Dr. Thomas Peterman of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention: “In some instances, the men involved have the attitude that they do not need safe-sex practices because they already are infected with HIV…There are a number of studies that continue to show that there are some HIV-infected and some uninfected men who have sex with men who continue to have large numbers of (sexual) partners and anonymous sex. This is one of the consequences of that…I think the bigger message is that we need to get control of syphilis. And control of syphilis would require safe-sex behavior, reducing the number of partners, and using condoms with those partners. And for men who have sex with men, it means getting tested for HIV and other STDs at least once a year.”
These are the demographics of the CDC’s study: “Of the 49 HIV-positive gay and bisexual men with symptomatic early neurosyphilis, 63 percent were non-Hispanic whites, 18 were non-Hispanic blacks and 14 percent were Hispanic. Their average age was 38.”