Men who have sex with men need to worry about more than HIV
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California residents have been seeing spike in sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in their area, and health officials have been working hard to stop the spread of these infections. Recently, The Bay Area Reporter published an article explaining some of the strategies that are being put into place to encourage individuals to practice safer sex and visit STD testing centers in San Francisco to learn whether they have an infection.
According to the news source, health officials have been using mobile devices to alert men who have sex with men (MSM) of testing appointments and specific STD information. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MSM have particularly high rates of STDs, especially syphilis, which has been on the rise in this population for quite some time. The CDC states that this is particularly concerning because there are high rates of HIV co-infection among men who have syphilis.
The Reporter stated that many sexually active men only undergo blood and urine tests to check for STDs, when ideally they should also receive pharyngeal and rectal tests for such STDs as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
"What we find these days is that gay men tend to be very knowledgeable about how HIV is transmitted. But there is not the same level around other [sexually transmitted infections]," said Steve Gibson, director of Magnet, the men's health center in San Francisco's Castro district, quoted by the news source.
San Francisco has experienced six straight years of increasing STD rates, and based on reported statistics for the first half of 2012, the trend is continuing. One challenge that health officials pointed out is that many HIV-positive men practice what is called "sero-sorting," which involves seeking out other HIV-positive men to have unprotected sex with. This is dangerous, because it increases their risk of developing another strain of the virus or a different STD.
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