Health: Syphilis On The Rise Among Gay, Bi Men

In an alarming report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was discovered that gay, bisexual, and other MSM (men who have sex with men) make up for most of the increase in syphilis infections in the United States since 2001.

The report, titled “State-Specific Rates of Primary and Secondary Syphilis Among Men Who Have Sex with Men”, looked at national data reported regularly by 44 states for 2015. It looked at the rates of infection among women, men who have sex with women only, and MSM. Among the three groups, MSM had the highest rates of syphilis incidence.

Syphilis infection among MSM was 106.0 times the rate among men who have sex with women only and 167.5 times the rate among women. Of the 23,872 reported primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States in 2015, 12,118 (60.8%) were among MSM, including 10,942 (54.9%) among men who had sex with men only and 1,176 (5.9%) cases among men who had sex with both men and women.

North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and New Mexico were the five states with the highest rate of syphilis infection among MSM. On the other hand, Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and Montana had the lowest rate of syphilis infection among MSM.

The CDC is calling on healthcare providers to screen sexually active MSM for syphilis at least annually and provide timely treatment according to national sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines.

A4A readers, what do you think about this new statistics? Are you surprised? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

There are 16 comments

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  1. TriedOfIt

    There’s a LOT of barebacking going on out there based upon clean HIV antibody tests. WRONG! I remember a huge spike in syphilis in Southern California circa 1976-77 among the same group…MSMs who go for anal. You can trust ANYONE, period. Either wrap it up, or pay for your own meds, as far as I’m concerned

  2. Tom

    As an hiv undectable male I am very concerned for my health and that of others . I believe that the lack of condom use can be attributed to those who are on Prep . They think that they are suddenly invincible because of it . I think we all need to take a step back and rethink our choices when it comes to sexual encounters. Makes you think a little more I hope.

  3. Andy

    Fortunately Syphilis is relatively easy to cure if caught in time. Testing should be part of regular health exams. Haven’t seen much written about what activities are most dangerous for transmittal (kissing? oral? anal?).

  4. LEO

    This is important information from the,
    Center Of Disease Control regarding the dramatic increase of syphilis, between MSM.

    The below link from the CDC, offers confidential testing locations for STDS, HIV, and Hepatitis.


    Have a great weekend.

  5. BBguy1970

    i contacted Syphilis late last summer at the bookstore . probably bottomed for three guys one day . all very nice white guys mid 3Os . first time i had the courage to take all those loads .
    about 3-4 months later . my body started becoming covered with pink spots the size of nickels/quarters . all over my chest/stomach/back/top of legs . no other symptoms at all .
    i saw my regular doctor on thanksgiving & the spots started to disappear almost immediately
    after i received one BIG shot of Penicillin straight into my butt cheek . was a pretty awful feeling
    knowing i had been walking around with this disease for all those weeks/months . fortunately
    i did not give it to any one else during that time . was sure to ask all my ‘buds’ . i can’t imagine what it would have been like to live in 18th/19th century America before there was a cure invented for this destructive and painful disease . ** Guys if you see an open or rough pink spot
    near the tip of a guys penis that might be where they contracted Syphilis . that will stay there for a few weeks usually . my spot was inside of my butt about an inch deep . i could feel this little bump where the bacteria entered my skin . 1OO% curable !!!!! don’t panic !!
    just be aware if you are not feeling well immediately after a guy (or guys) pokes in your butt .

    • anonimatovato

      While i’m glad you got cured from it, please don’t make it sound like it’s a field day to have unprotected sex and treat syphilis like it’s not a big deal. Why not be more selective on the men you meet and have protected sex?

  6. bigprick69GA

    I had the surprise of my life when I had anal warts last year. The surgery to remove them was incredibly painful during recovery, as the procedure is to essentially peel the skin off around your ass.
    Then they were back even before healing completed.
    Then the doc did the RPR and it was positive, along with the FTA. The three injections of Bicillin are incredibly expensive, but effective. The warts were gone as the syphilis was killed.
    This is not routinely tested at AIDS clinics and such. Syphilis is known as the Great Imitator, able to look pretty much like just about anything – including arthritis.
    If you are sexually active with men, get tested and treated. Don’t go through a painful procedure or risk a dementia from ignorance.

  7. Thicks

    Syphilis is no fun! A few years back I got it from someone I had been with, and since I had tested recently I didn’t know I had it until I had started showing stage two symptoms. It was a horribly painful experience, and I was even misdiagnosed by my straight doctor before I got treatment. People need to remember that these are serious diseases that aren’t treated with HIV prophylactics; and can in fact make you more susceptible to other STIs like HIV.

  8. Hunter0500

    Gay men. Bi men. Oh wait! … The elderly in retirements​ communities. Do easy research and it’s clear STDs are on the rise across the the board with ALL groups.

    Son of a gun if being gay just means we have reached equality and are JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!

    Do we get a parade now?

  9. Justin

    Put gays, bisexuals, and Men Having Sex with Other Men (MSN) on antipsychotic medications, whether or not they need it psychiatrically, since most of these antipsychotic medications reduce testosterone levels below normal levels.
    As a result, these men’s sexual libido (i.e. drive) would crash and the weight gain associated with these medications would make men unattractive to one another. Problem solved!

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