Syphilis up 87% among gay men

Bill Weintraub

Bill Weintraub

Syphilis up 87% among gay men


Feds target syphilis among gay men

Christopher Curtis, PlanetOut Network

Mon May 8, 2006

SUMMARY: U.S. health officials launch new efforts to reduce the alarming rise in syphilis infections reported among men who have sex with men.

Syphilis infection rates in the United States have been on the rise since 2001, largely due to increases among men who have sex with men, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday announced a new strategy to reverse the trend.

A new study by the Chicago Department of Public Health indicates syphilis infections reported by MSM rose by 87 percent between 2004 and 2005, despite significant declines in the previous two years.

Researchers in San Diego discovered that men who have sex with men are 37 percent less likely than heterosexual men to have the disease diagnosed in the earliest stage, when it is most infectious. Researchers believe that's because the syphilis lesions among MSM are more likely to be in the anus or mouth and consequently go unrecognized.

"Delayed diagnosis among men who have sex with men may result in continued risk behavior during the period in which syphilis can be most easily transmitted, as men may be unknowingly spreading the disease," said Dr. John M. Douglas Jr., director of STD prevention at the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention.


The CDC's plan focuses on three primary strategies: The first strategy aims to enhance public health services, with a focus on partner notification programs. The second involves cutting down on the number of syphilis infections among men who have sex with men. The third aims to improve the accountability of prevention efforts.


[emphases mine]

Bill Weintraub:

Syphilis infections have risen 87% among gay men since 2004.

87% is a lot.

And: gay men are less likely than hetero men to spot the infection early -- which is CRUCIAL -- because the syphilitic lesions are in the mouth and anus.

Which agrees with what everyone else says:

Sexually transmitted diseases are far more difficult both to spot and to treat -- when they're in the anus.

The anus was not meant to be penetrated.

And oral is high-risk too.

Still doing anal?

Still doing oral?

Still promiscuous?

You need to think about it.

David McQuarrie said it:

Anal Sex -- It Kills.

Robert keeps warning you:

Feminization kills.

That's the truth.

Anal penetration = feminization = pyschic castration.

Anal penetration kills.

What's the CDC's response to this?

The CDC's plan focuses on three primary strategies: The first strategy aims to enhance public health services, with a focus on partner notification programs. The second involves cutting down on the number of syphilis infections among men who have sex with men. The third aims to improve the accountability of prevention efforts.

Partner notification is certainly a good idea.

But: "The second involves cutting down on the number of syphilis infections among men who have sex with men."

How are they going to do that?


The culture supports promiscuity.


These guys know about condoms.

They won't use them.

As I discussed in the post titled A culture of mistrust, the issue -- and HIV and other STD prevention "experts" have known this is the issue literally for years -- can be summed up in the phrase "sensitivity and intimacy."

Guys don't use condoms because they interfere with sensitivity and intimacy.

Guys want sex.

And they want skin-on-skin sex.

The condom not only kills pleasure in sex, it also puts a barrier between you and the other guy.

No pleasure, no intimacy.

That's why guys won't use condoms.

Of course there's an alternative.


FROT is sex.

It's real sex.

Genital-genital sex.

Frot is true male sexual intercourse.

And it's skin-on-skin.

FROT feels great and there's nothing more intimate.

Will the CDC start boosting Frot and mutual JO?


It's a sensible and humane solution.

And the religious right won't allow it.

See Whatever happened to Jocelyn Elders?:

Elders, the last surgeon general to suggest that "mutual masturbation" was a reasonable response to STD, was forced from her job in a matter of days.

And that was TWELVE years ago.

Since then, the power of the religious right has grown.

Will the CDC start questioning anal?

Doesn't seem likely.

The current surgeon general, Carmona, has made a statement which accurately describes anal as too risky to practice;

but for whatever reason, no one's followed up on it.

And that was almost a year ago.

The religious right's congressional point man on STD -- Republican senator and evangelical Christian Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a former head of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and a physician who's been very critical of condoms -- has, despite appeals made by myself to his staffer, not followed through on Carmona's statement.

Instead, he's most recently issued conciliatory words towards AIDS Inc., praising activists who, he said, had spurred development of antiretrovirals.

Why, after Coburn's thunderous denunciations of the failure of condoms to contain HPV, and given the Surgeon General's statement, has Coburn been silent on anal?

I don't know, but there are several possibilities.

One is that the decision has already been made by the religious right to make ABSTINENCE their program with American MSM.

Indeed, several years back we were privately offered a big bundle of MONEY if we would agree to STOP TALKING ABOUT FROT, and push ABSTINENCE and Fidelity alone.

Like I say, that was private.

But what's been happening in public is plain enough.

Rather than get into the messy business of attacking anal, which carries with it the LOGICAL NECESSITY of discussing NON-ANAL ALTERNATIVES, the religious right would prefer simply to focus on abstention -- their preferred behavior for homosexuals; and perhaps Fidelity, though I doubt it, because that gets into the messy question of gay marriage and other unions.

Indeed, just today, Coburn's staffer sent out -- to me and many others -- a press release titled "Many Americans with HIV Deliberately Choose Abstinence, RAND Study finds," touting a RAND Organization study which stated that 11% of HIV+ gay men and 18% of HIV poz heterosexuals choose to abstain from sex.

Said the staffer: "This study is interesting in light of the fact that "safer" sex [condom use] is the exclusive message promoted by AIDS advocates and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (you will recall that just last week the CDC hosted a conference on sexually transmitted diseases that was to feature a panel specifically to attack abstinence programs)."

That comment suggests very clearly that folks like Coburn will push hard to substitute ABSTINENCE programs for any other form of STD prevention -- which is what they've done in Africa and elsewhere abroad.

And let's be clear about this:


For MSM, we advocate Chuck Tarver's formulation of ABC:

Avoid anal, Be Faithful, use a Condom if you won't or can't do the first two.

That's a rational program for MSM.

Abstinence alone isn't, though we do support those men who choose to abstain.

Please see our policy paper Why Be Faithful for a full exposition of the The Man2Man Alliance position on abstinence, Fidelity, and non-anal alternatives.

So: One explanation for right-wing evangelical Senator Tom Coburn's refusal to attack anal is that:


Instead, they intend to push ABSTINENCE -- because to them, the only good homosexual is an EX-homosexual.

However, there's another possibility with Coburn or any other member of Congress:

He's been bought.

Either by AIDS Inc via money from the big pharmaceutical houses; or by ANAL Inc via money OR A QUID PRO QUO brokered by gay Republicans within the gay male establishment.

And it could be a combination of these things:

pressure from the religious right; his own beliefs; and money or support coming from AIDS Inc and ANAL Inc.


Do expect to see a push for ABSTINENCE.

Which means there will be no real discussion of the behaviors in the gay male community which are spreading HIV.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the core factor in the transmission of HIV and HPV among MSM will NOT be addressed.

What happens when you don't address the core factor in the transmission of a disease?

The disease spreads:

Health officials propose routine HIV testing

Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

Mon May 8, 2006

SUMMARY: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon suggest that voluntary HIV tests be part of most Americans' routine physical exams.

ATLANTA -- Testing for the AIDS virus could become part of routine physical exams for adults and teens if doctors follow new U.S. guidelines expected to be issued by this summer. Federal health officials say they'd like HIV testing to be as common as a cholesterol check.

The guidelines for voluntary testing would apply to every American ages 13 to 64, according to the proposed plan by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One-quarter of the 1 million Americans with the AIDS virus don't know they are infected, and that group is most responsible for HIV's spread, CDC officials said.

"We need to expand access to HIV testing dramatically by making it a routine part of medical care," said the agency's Dr. Kevin Fenton.


Bill Weintraub:

In the United States, HIV used to be a disease of certain risk groups.

MARPS they were called -- Most At Risk Populations -- and they were discrete and limited.

Indeed, there used to be a lot of discussion about why HIV had not and would not spread into the "general population."

No more.

Now it's taken as a given that HIV can be found throughout the general population and that everyone needs to be tested for it.


Disease spreads.

We could have stopped the spread of HIV back in 1984 if we'd addressed the actual behaviors which were transmitting HIV among gay and bi men.

We didn't.

And now we're paying the price.

Some of you reading this are infected with HIV.

Some with syphilis.

MOST of you are infected with anal HPV.

And if you've been promiscuous, probably a host of other things.

If you care about these issues, DONATE.

If you don't, don't.

Couldn't be simpler.

Remember though, that disease spreads.

And sexually transmitted disease spreads FASTEST and with the most DEADLY results through anal penetration.

If you're "sexually active," you need to consider that.

Because there's NO WAY, if you're sexually active, you can escape the impact of these diseases.


And there's NO WAY anyone else will, free of political pressures and believing in the POWER and BEAUTY of LOVE between MEN, make a RATIONAL attempt to deal with these issues.


© All material Copyright 2006 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.

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