High global prevalence of syphilis among MSM

13 July 2021

Article: 55/2805

The Lancet has published a new study, which highlights the high global prevalence of syphilis among men who have sex with men (MSM) and underscores the need to advance stalled progress toward eliminating syphilis as a public health threat by 2030.

Findings from this global review show that MSM have a high burden of syphilis infection, with significant variation across countries and regions. The global pooled prevalence of syphilis among MSM was 7.5% during 2000-2020, as compared to the most recent estimate of syphilis among men in the general population in 2016, that being 0.5%. The proportion of MSM with syphilis was highest in settings where HIV prevalence was greater than 5% and in low and middle-income countries.

Globally, there were an estimated seven million new syphilis infections in 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set ambitious targets to reduce incidence of syphilis by 90% by 2030, but the global response has been slow. While there have been modest reductions in congenital syphilis because of the scale-up of interventions in antenatal care, such as syphilis screening and treatment for pregnant women, there is a reported urgent need to galvanize momentum and better serve other priority populations disproportionally impacted by the disease.

Source: WHO, 9 July 2021