SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A sharp spike in syphilis cases in New York’s Onondaga County is being blamed in part on the proliferation of gay hook-up phone apps that make it easy for men to find each other quickly, the Post-Standard, a paper in the region, reports.
The number of cases of the potentially deadly sexually transmitted disease nearly doubled in Onondaga County from 15 cases in 2012 to 29 in 2013, the Post-Standard reports. During the same period, the number of cases in New York outside of New York City increased from 375 to 490, a 30 percent increase. Syphilis is increasing in both urban and rural areas across the state, according to the state Health Department.
The state and county health departments recently issued alerts to health providers, urging them to be diligent about screening for the disease and treating it, the Post-Standard reports.
Nearly all the syphilis cases in New York last year involved men, and more than 70 percent involved men who reported having sex with other men, according to the state Health Department. Men over age 30 accounted for most of the cases in Onondaga County.
When a syphilis case is reported, public health workers try to identity the infected individuals’ sex partners so they can contact them and advise them to get tested and treated. As part of their investigation, public health workers ask people infected with syphilis if they use phone apps such as Grindr or Adam4Adam to find sex partners, the Post-Standard reports.
Grindr, a free app, uses global positioning technology to allow men to find nearby sex partners.