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Fourteen percent of men and women with primary or secondary syphilis interviewed in Chicago in 2000-2002 reported that the only type of sexual contact they had had during the period in which they likely acquired the infection was oral sex. (1) Among men who have had sex with men, the proportion of infections attributable to oral sex was above the average--20%. By contrast, only 6-7% of women and of men reporting exclusively heterosexual behavior appear to have become infected through oral sex. The total number of syphilis cases in Chicago has been stable since the 1990s, but the population affected has shifted dramatically: In the 1990s, infections were almost exclusively among heterosexual men and women; in 2001 and 2002, nearly three in five were among men who have sex with men. Some of the men interviewed believed that oral sex carries no risks and had been surprised to learn that they were infected. The researchers stress that "persons who are not in a long-term monogamous relationship and who engage in oral sex should use barrier protection."

(1.) Ciesielski C, Tabidze I and Brown C, Transmission of primary and secondary syphilis by oral sex-Chicago, Illinois, 1998-2002, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2004, 53(41): 966-968.
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Title Annotation:FYI
Author:Hollander, Dore
Publication:Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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