Sexual Diseases Spike Among Gays in UK

News: Life and Family
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  July 8, 2016   

CDC publishes similar findings for active homosexuals in the United States

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LONDON ( - Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are seeing a sharp rise among active gays in the United Kingdom, a new study reports.

The findings, published this week by Public Health England (PHE), report British men having sex with men (MSM) contracted 10 percent more STIs than the previous year.

PHE, a branch of the U.K.'s Department of Health, has been tracking this problem for several years. The current update compares data from 2015 over 2014 levels.

The report reveals that during this period, "there were large increases in diagnoses of gonorrhoea (11%) and syphilis (20%), continuing the rising trends in these infections of the past 5 years. These rises have occurred mostly in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men."

Focusing just on British men who engage in sodomy, the current PHE report found that "[l]arge increases in STI diagnoses were seen in MSM, including a 21% increase in gonorrhoea and a 19% increase in syphilis."

The report also noted in Britain, "Over the past decade, diagnoses of gonorrhoea, syphilis, and genital herpes have increased considerably, most notably in males."

Britain's gay community is not alone in this rising tide of STIs. Homosexuals around the world are experiencing similar levels of infection, now being labeled an epidemic.

In the United States, Gail Bolan, director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Division of STD Prevention, addressed this issue on Capitol Hill in April. She confirmed that the rate of syphilis infection among homosexual men in the United States has increased to a level not seen since the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

"We're concerned about our high levels of syphilis among men who have sex with men — really we're back to the level of disease — burden of disease — in gay men that we were seeing before HIV in this country."

A CDC fact sheet on sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the United States during 2014 refers to a "troubling rise in syphilis infections among men, particularly gay and bisexual men."

The fact sheet reports,

Trend data show rates of syphilis are increasing at an alarming rate. ... [M]en account for more than 90 percent of all primary and secondary syphilis cases. Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for 83 percent of male cases where the sex of the sex partner is known.

Some of the reasons listed by the CDC, involving such high rates of STDs among the MSM group are related to the effects of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which impedes the immune system's ability to fight off infection. Reasons listed by the CDC include:

  1. MSM partners are 40 times more likely to have HIV than normal

  2. Anal copulation has an 18-times higher risk of contracting HIV than vaginal relations

  3. MSM have a far greater number of sexual partners who are often infected with the virus

But STDs and HIV are interrelated, as the CDC reports. "Syphilis infection can also place a person at increased risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection. ... [D]ata indicate that an average of half of MSM who have syphilis are also infected with HIV."


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