Syphilis rates have nearly doubled in the past decade, with the
steepest rise among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to an
analysis of national data in MMWR.
From 2005 to 2013, annual rates of primary and secondary syphilis
increased from 2.9 to 5.3 cases per 100,000 population. Increases were
greatest among men, who accounted for 91% of cases in 2013, and were
seen in men of all ages, races/ethnicities, and geographic regions.
The rise was especially pronounced among MSM, who accounted for about
80% of cases in men. Among women, rates increased from 2005 to 2008
and dropped thereafter.
Notably, syphilis was at record low levels in 2000.
Calling the syphilis increase in MSM “a major public health concern,”
the researchers recommend promoting prevention measures, including
safer sex practices, syphilis screening, and partner notification.