Bioethics News

STIs: Sexually transmitted infections increase among homosexuals

A report from Public Health England on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for the year 2014, published on 23 June 2015, has revealed very alarming statistics on the prevalence of these infections among homosexuals (See previous article on this topic in the North American population http://www.observatoriobioetica.org/2015/04/sifilis-aumenta-el-contagio-en-eeuu/7380).

In fact, although STIs decreased by 0.3% in England in from 2013 to 2014, they increased significantly among homosexuals. Thus, syphilis increased in this group by 46%, gonorrhoea by 32%, chlamydia by 26%, and genital herpes and warts by 10%.

Gonorrhoea increased most significantly, probably because of the emergence of bacterial resistance and reduction in effective treatments, to the point where some of these diseases could almost be labelled as untreatable.

One of the reasons for this increase could be the perception among homosexuals of a reduction in the risk of HIV infection, as AIDS is a treatable disease, and therefore has become a chronic rather than fatal illness. This assumption is supported by the fact that in 2013, 16% of HIV-positive men, many of them homosexual, were unaware that they were infected.

To reduce this risk, the aforementioned Report recommends that homosexual men undergo annual screening to detect possible HIV infection or an STI, or every three months if they have had condomless sex with a new partner. They should also be provided with access to sexual health services. Another good measure would be to reduce the number of sexual partners, and to avoid simultaneous sexual relationships.

There is no doubt that if these measures are adopted, the risk of STIs among homosexuals would be reduced (The Lancet 386; 2, 2015; 4 July 2015).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.