The England Public health office revealed today that gay men (men who have sex with men or MSM) in London are more likely to catch STIs and reinfect others more proportionally to the sexuality population than hetrosexuals. They also noted that MSM represent 65% of all gonorrhoea cases and 84% of all Syphilis cases.
The press release said:
The sexual health of some men who have sex with men (MSM) in London is worsening according to a new report released today by Public Health England (PHE). Even though MSM make up only an estimated 2% of the London adult population (3.8% of the male population), they constituted nearly one in five (24%) of all London residents diagnosed with new sexually transmitted infections (STI) in 2013.
Representing 65% of all gonorrhoea cases identified and 84% of all syphilis cases, London’s MSM community are disproportionately affected when it comes to sexual health and also experience much higher re-infection rates than heterosexuals, particularly of gonorrhoea.
In the last decade other infections transmitted sexually have emerged as of particular concern in MSM. These include Shigella flexneri (bacteria that can cause diarrhoea) and lymphogranuloma venereum, (LGV). There is also evidence that MSM in London are more likely to use common chemsex drugs, such as crystal methamphetamine, GHB/GBL and mephedrone than elsewhere in England. ‘Chemsex’ is a term commonly used by gay and bisexual men to describe sex that occurs under the influence of drugs. The concern is that the use of these drugs can lead to an increase in risk taking sexual behaviour, including unprotected sex and an increase in numbers of sexual partners.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London said:
“The worsening of sexual health of men who have sex with men is despite evidence that they are increasingly aware of and accessing services. High numbers of MSM are taking risks with their health by not using condoms consistently and as a result we are seeing rises in a whole range of STIs, including HIV.
“Efforts should continue to encourage regular and frequent testing among MSM to help the on-going transmission of STIs. MSM should have an HIV/STI screen at least annually or every three months if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners. Most importantly, however, they should use condoms consistently with all casual and new partners and main partners until they have been screened. This advice is regardless of their own HIV status and that of their partners.”