Ireland: Sexually Transmitted Infections in Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) Continue to Soar

This article was reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

The Belfast Telegraph reported that effective HIV treatments may be responsible for climbing sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Northern Ireland. Sexual health experts at a recent conference discussed the paradox that since low HIV viral loads help block HIV transmission, MSM have unprotected sex, which causes other STIs to spread.

In 2012, healthcare providers diagnosed 222 MSM in Northern Ireland with gonorrhea, which represents 65 percent of all diagnosed men in the country. In 2000, only 9 percent of diagnosed cases were among MSM. According to Dr. Wallace Dinsmore, Northern Ireland's leading genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinician, "Not only is gonorrhea increasing among MSM, syphilis is also a significant problem and these statistics, which are from 2012, do not represent the true scale of the issue, which my colleagues and I see in Northern Ireland's GUM clinics on a daily basis."

An additional contributing factor is that MSM do not get tested routinely for STIs. A study by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, which sponsored the conference, showed that one fourth of gay and bisexual men have never sought testing. Many STIs, including gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, are often asymptomatic, but are spread easily if people do not know they are infected.

Sexual health experts are hopeful that a new, over-the-counter Confidante STI Home Testing Kit, which can detect the 10 most common STIs, will prompt more MSM to test themselves and seek treatment. For more information on the testing kit, visit www.confidantetest.com.