Syphilis cases in New Zealand have doubled in the last two years, with the gay male community particularly under seige from the highly contagious infection. Close to half of Auckland's recorded infections have been in men who have sex with men, with the majority catching it locally. This trend mirrors similar developments overseas. The AIDS Foundation has responded promptly to the news, as the risk of HIV infection is increased four-fold among those who already have contracted syphilis, an illness that can cause serious illness and premature death if left untreated. "Since the advent of safe sex in the early 1980s syphilis has not been a major issue for gay and bisexual men," says Douglas Jenkin, Co-ordinator for the NZAF's Gay Men's Health Programme. "In the past five years, however, as more men around the world practice safe sex less consistently, some of the pre-AIDS sexually transmitted infections have returned. Of these syphilis is one of the more insidious." The Foundation says regular testing is vital for men who regularly practice oral sex without condoms. Condoms are the best protection against catching syphilis, although they aren't foolproof, as the highly infectious sores and rashes the disease produces might not be in the genital area.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Wednesday, 15th December 2004 - 12:00pm
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