A new report from the Alaska Health Department notes that syphilis infections have “increased dramatically” since 2018, disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men.

A similar trend is playing out across the nation. According to the CDC, between 2020 and 2021, the number of syphilis cases has increased by 29% in the U.S., driven in large part by gay or bisexual men.

The latest Alaska report looks at infections found in 2022, and relies on data obtained from the CDC’s National Electronic Disease Surveillance System and syphilis case management records.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact percentage of Alaskans who identify as LGBTQ, a 2019 survey found the number to be 3.7%. Despite the relative small population, this group comprised at least 17% of Alaska’s syphilis cases in 2022, according to the new state report.

Last year saw 424 syphilis cases statewide, or roughly 53 cases per 100,000 people. Of those infected 58 identified as gay or bisexual men, while 14 identified as bisexual women. Another 46 infections were among people whose sexual identities were either unknown or undisclosed.

The bacterial disease is frequently transmitted during anal and oral sex, as well as vaginal sex, passing from one person to the next through direct contact with sores on the mouth, penis or anus. It is not transmitted through casual contact with objects such as toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools or shared clothing or utensils.

Once contracted, however, syphilis can cause serious health problems, including brain and nerve damage, eye problems, and even blindness. It’s also linked to an increased risk of transmission of HIV infection.

Among Alaskans infected with syphilis last year, 24 (6%) were coinfected with HIV, 57 (14%) were coinfected with chlamydia, and 30 (7%) were coinfected with gonorrhea.

Despite the fact that homosexual acts are well-established risk factors in transmitting syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases, the Alaska Health Department’s report makes no mention of abstaining from these behaviors. In fact, the only suggestions offered by the state are to increase testing, screening and examinations among high-risk groups.

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Alaska’s dramatic syphilis spike disproportionately plagues gay, bisexual men

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    It’s so sad that 3.7% of the population is driving Alaska (Anchorage) into an issue we all have to put up with. Now look at Washington DC, may we say that’s what’s happened their? Most of the elected in office now are brain dead. Juneau isn’t far behind. Maybe it’s time to go back to the way it used to be! Abstinence does help.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Your actions have consequences! Too bad we the people allow our leaders to escape the consequences of their asinine actions! Let’s start with dunleavy!

  • AK Fish says:

    Wrap that rascal or abstain from sex with every Tom, Dick or Harry that you find on your hookup app. Easy peasy.

  • micah says:

    > syphilis infections have “increased dramatically” since 2018, disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men.

    As night follows day, once you are given over to sin, it leads to death and decay. We ought to never have accepted openness for sexual deviants. Let them do what they are compelled to do in the dark corners on the down low.

  • Jen says:

    s-e-x is for between two who are married.
    Single hood is more likely the better way to go and learning contentment if a Ms and Mister hadn’t found Ms Right or Mr Right; rather than fooling around doing whoever one likes cause the one the other likes may have a sexual transmitted disease.

  • Ceak says:

    If one man and one woman only have sex with eachother, there is no chance of an STD being shared. It’s only with casual sex, without a committed relationship. We are meant to be committed to only 1 parter for our lives. Marriage and faithfulness have benefits.