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4 Jul 2013

HIV, syphilis rise among gay men in Bangkok

Syphilis cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) have more than doubled from 5% in 2005 to 12.5% in 2011 while the annual prevalence of HIV also rose "significantly" from 24.5% in 2005 to 29.4% in 2011 among MSM.

The Bangkok Post reported on Jun 29:

Cases of HIV and syphilis among gay men in Bangkok are on the rise, according to data released by US and Thai health authorities on Friday.

Adam's Love is a sexual health campaign targeted at MSM and gay men in Thailand.
Syphilis cases among gay men more than doubled from 5% in 2005 to 12.5% in 2011, said the report in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Meanwhile, the annual prevalence of HIV also rose "significantly," from 24.5% in 2005 to 29.4% in 2011 among men who have sex with men (MSM), it said.

"These data show ongoing and increasing epidemics of HIV and syphilis infection among MSM in Bangkok," said the report.

The data came from the Silom Community Clinic, located in a central Bangkok hospital and near entertainment venues for gay men.

The clinic was founded in 2005 by a joint collaboration between the the Public Health Ministry and the US CDC, offering free and confidential tests in an environment "receptive to the health and concerns of the MSM community."

When the team first began collecting data about HIV infections in gay men in Bangkok in 2003, the HIV prevalence was 17%.

By 2005 the HIV prevalence in that group had risen to 28%, and now it is around 30%, said the report.


Reader's Comments

Comment #1 was deleted by its author on 2013-07-04 20:40
2. 2013-07-04 20:40  
This is alarming, although it's important to have some perspective when reading the results of a study like this. The clinic likely serves a population of high-risk men, so one would expect the prevalence to be higher.

Do most men attending this clinic present with an STI? Is that the reason they come to the clinic? If so, their risk for acquiring HIV would be higher. Or, have they come simply for HIV screening?

What is the total number of men screened?

Do the data represent all MSM in Bangkok? Probably not.

Condoms reduce risk. Safer sex promotes health. But we must research the reasons why some guys do not practice safer sex and come up with new approaches for promoting health-affirming behaviors.

Sex is great! Safer sex is possible!

Comment edited on 2013-07-04 20:47:19
3. 2013-07-04 20:44  
sex is one of biggest temptation among gays, this pleasure may b displaced to other activities such as sports, events, games, providing skill related to job that will not make boring life, factors that hinder these activities should be determined to solve problems, such as shy of being amateur at first, effective teaching by helping exposure,quick result because all people want to see the result quickly. the key of this is love rather than money considerations .i have no meeting man for months, that is ok, because i meet animals to feed everyday, learning something new that related to real life.
4. 2013-07-04 21:36  
My second post on this article:

I've just now read the full article in the Bangkok Post, something I should have done before writing my comments. The full article explains more fully and answers the questions posed in my earlier post.

I would encourage Fridae to take care in summarizing news articles so as not to omit the most salient points. Also, a more appropriate heading for the Fridae summary could read "gay men who present with STI symptoms".

I hope this is not perceived as criticism; it's simply a helpful suggestion.
5. 2013-07-05 00:00  
From this abstract, the prevalence of HIV amongst 21 year old gays is 15.6% (if I read it correctly):

Half of what this Bangkok post article is claiming. If 15.6% are already HIV+ by the time they are 21, I don't think it is too difficult to believe that would be 30% for the entire age-spectrum.
Comment edited on 2013-07-05 08:32:47
6. 2013-07-05 11:43  
What did the authorities expect when they stopped MSM venues (saunas etc) from handing out free condoms and lube? A time bomb just waiting to go off - and the government is totally to blame.
7. 2013-07-05 14:23  
#6, I think that is in KL, not in Bangkok. This other paper seems to suggest that condoms are available in Bangkok saunas but limited/not well placed (double entendre not intended):

8. 2013-07-06 01:44  
Well I must say I guess it pays to not be attractive. I have been to BKK 3 times in the past 2 years. I am talking a month at a time. I couldn't even find anyone that wanted to have sex with me. Which was fine by me. I wanted to make some nice gay friends, but since most young gay men can only think of sex, that was impossible.
BKK, you can keep it!
Comment #9 was deleted by its author on 2013-07-06 14:20
Comment #10 was deleted by its author on 2013-07-06 21:48
11. 2013-07-07 21:39  
Re: the statistics on syphilis, I think simply throwing up a percentage of 'cases among gay men' can be quite ambiguous. Are we talking about incidence or prevalence? 5% of general gay population in BKK or 5% of patients who come through the clinic?

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