Infectious Disease

Almost 8% of MSM worldwide have syphilis, study results

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The global prevalence of syphilis in men who have sex with men is close to 8%, according to a study recently published in The Lancet Global Health.

“Every five years, the WHO produces new global estimates of curable sexually transmitted infections in women and men in the general population. I co-authored the latest global estimates for 2016 – released in 2019 – and at that time there were no globally pooled estimates of syphilis prevalence in MSM. ” Matthew Chico, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said Healio.

Tsuboi M. et al.  Lancet Global Health.  2021; doi: 10.1016 / S2214-109X (21) 00221-7.

Tsuboi M. et al. Lancet Global Health. 2021; doi: 10.1016 / S2214-109X (21) 00221-7.

In preparation for the next cycle of global estimates of curable sexually transmitted diseases, Chico and colleagues performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to get a better measure of the prevalence of syphilis in MSM. They searched MEDLINE, Embase, LILACS, AIM, and Integrated Bio-Behavioral Surveillance (IBBS) reports for studies conducted between January 1, 2000 and February 1, 2020 with data on the syphilis point Prevalence measured by biological tests in MSM. They used random effects models to produce pooled prevalence estimates for eight global regions.

In total, the researchers identified 275 suitable studies with a total of 606,232 participants and 345 prevalence data points in 77 countries.

They estimated that the global pooled syphilis prevalence among MSM from 2000 to 2020 was 7.5% (95% CI, 7% -8%) and from 1.9% (95% CI, 1% -3.1%) ) in Australia and New Zealand to 10.6% (95 CI, 8.5% -12.9%) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The global rate is “alarmingly high” and 15 times higher than that of men in the general population, Chico said. He said cases are particularly high in regions where HIV prevalence among MSM is 5% or more and are increasing in low-middle, upper-middle and high-income countries.

“Syphilis screening and treatment are critical,” said Chico. “In order to reduce syphilis incidence worldwide by 90% from 2018 to 2030, as set out in the WHO Global Health Sector Strategy adopted by countries of the world, action targeting MSM is needed.”

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