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Syphilis on the rise.

Syphilis on the rise

More than 8,200 new cases of syphiliswere reported in the United States during the first three months of 1987, an increase of 23 percent over the number of cases seen during the same period in 1986, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta announced last week. The recent jump in the venereal disease is the largest in more than a decade and reverses a five-year trend of decreasing incidence, according to the July 3 MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY WEEKLY REPORT.

The latest figures also expose a newprofile of infection, says coauthor Peter Crippen. During the 1970s, most men with early-stage syphilis were either homosexual or bisexual; however, the latest figures indicate a decrease of cases among these groups, offset by relatively large increases among heterosexuals. "The fear of AIDS among homosexuals and bisexuals has changed their [sexual] behavior substantially,' Crippen told SCIENCE NEWS.

Although the reasons for higher heterosexualincidence are unknown, scientists suspect increased drug use leading to prostitution, as well as scarcity of local medical and educational resources, which have been stretched thin by AIDS patients and drug addicts. Whatever the reasons, says Crippen, "the consequences are still very real, especially in congenital syphilis [which mothers give their unborn children].' Health officials also are concerned about evidence that people with syphilis or other venereal diseases may be more likely to develop AIDS. Infection with the AIDS virus apparently also alters the course of syphilis (SN: 6/20/ 87, p.391).
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Author:Edwards, Diane D.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 11, 1987
Words:247
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