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AIDS and STDs Up Among Gay Men

AIDS and STDs Up Among Gay Men

The number of HIV and sexually transmitted disease diagnoses among Seattle men who have sex with men has increased through most of this decade, despite ongoing outreach and awareness programs, officials say. An anticipated 70% cut in state HIV funding has King County, Wash., health authorities worrying that prevention and treatment efforts will be constrained.

King County has been receiving about $3 million each year in state HIV prevention funding. However, Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed cutting this sum by more than $2 million to help close a predicted $2.6 billion state budget deficit for 2010, says Bob Wood, director of HIV control for Public Health-Seattle & King County.

"We're kind of wondering whether we'll be able to do even what we're mandated to do by the law," Wood told a recent board of health meeting.

Cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis among MSM have risen to levels last seen in the early to mid 1980s, according to a report presented to the health board. In 2005 and 2006 there were more than 1,200 gonorrhea diagnoses among MSM, the most since 1981 and 1982. In 2007 and 2008, MSM syphilis cases almost reached 400, with incidence at a nearly 30-year peak. Since 2001, HIV diagnoses among MSM have grown 8% a year, while dropping or remaining flat for heterosexuals and IV drug users.

"We've got a problem with risk behavior continuing to occur despite all of the efforts that we've put into it," Wood says. The county's current campaign urges gay men to get tested for HIV more frequently, he noted.

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