Syphilis and gonorrhoea in men who have sex with men: a European overview

Published: November 26, 2009

Syphilis and gonorrhoea in men who have sex with men: a European overview

Abstract

This paper describes recent trends in the epidemiology of syphilis and gonorrhoea infections in Europe among men who have sex with men (MSM). Routine surveillance data submitted to the European Surveillance of Sexually Transmitted Infections (ESSTI) network from 24 European countries for the period 1998-2007 were analysed. Data on whether syphilis and gonorrhoea infections were in MSM were available for 12 and 10 countries respectively. The number of syphilis cases reported to be MSM increased considerably in all Western European countries. While in some Central and Eastern European countries the male to female ratio remained relatively stable at around 1:1, in Slovenia and Czech Republic the proportion of male cases increased and so did the percentage of cases reported to be MSM. More cases of gonorrhoea were seen in men than women, but the percentage of male cases reported to be MSM was lower than for syphilis. The findings suggest MSM are at high risk of STI in Western Europe and appear to be an increasingly important risk group in Central Europe. Despite this, data on infections among MSM are not collected routinely in many countries. The introduction of standardised data collection including data on diagnoses in MSM should be prioritised for monitoring STI in this population.

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