Sexually Risky Behavior Increasing

ATLANTA, Ga-The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a recent syphilis outbreak in Southern California has alerted officials of increased risky behavior.

The outbreak in men who have sex with men (MSM) indicates that rates of unsafe sex are on the rise. Between January and July of 2000, 130 patients were diagnosed with primary or secondary syphilis in the Southern California area. Out of this group 51% were MSM, which reported a significant increase from 1999, when 26% of reported cases of syphilis were MSM. HIV rates among the group varied, with 57 knowing their status and 60% reportedly HIV-positive.

Of the 66 men who have sex with men diagnosed with syphilis, 33 reportedly had anonymous sex, 17 met sex partners in a bathhouse, two met sex partners on the Internet, and four had sex with a commercial sex worker.

Only 20% of the group reported using a condom during their most recent sexual encounter and 40% reported illicit drug use.

This study shows that high-risk behaviors for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are increasing among certain groups. Some researchers think risky behavior is increasing because of the success of HIV drug cocktails. Ironically, the effectiveness of HIV drugs has led some HIV-positive people to believe that it is safe to have unprotected sex. It has led others to believe that if they become infected, there are sufficient drugs on the market to control the disease.

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