Publications & Reports

High annual syphilis testing rates among gay men in Australia, but insufficient retesting.

Rebecca Guy, Handan Wand, Martin Holt, Limin Mao, David P Wilson, Chris Bourne, Fraser Drummond, Geoff Honnor, Phillip Keen, Basil Donovan, Garrett Prestage
Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. [email protected]


INTRODUCTION: Since 2000, infectious syphilis notifications have increased substantially among Australian gay men. We describe testing at a frequency lower than guidelines recommend. METHODS: We examined data from a cross-sectional survey of gay men in 5 Australian cities in 2010. We used logistic regression to identify correlates of no lifetime syphilis test among HIV-uninfected men and <2 tests per year in HIV-infected men and higher-risk HIV-uninfected men. RESULTS: Of 6329 HIV-uninfected men, 65% reported a syphilis test in the past year, and 86% in their lifetime, and factors associated with no lifetime syphilis test were lower social engagement with gay men, older age, fewer sexual partners, no anal sex with casual partners, and not being aware syphilis could be asymptomatic. Among higher-risk HIV-uninfected men (>10 partners in the past 6 months), factors associated with <2 syphilis tests in the past year were nonmetropolitan residence, older age, no anal sex or unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners, not aware syphilis could be acquired through oral sex, and testing at a nonregular general practitioner. Of the 580 HIV-infected, 87% reported a syphilis test in the past year, and 96% in their lifetime, and factors associated with <2 syphilis tests in the past year were unprotected anal intercourse with HIV-uninfected casual partner and recruitment from social or sex-on-premises venues. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis showed high lifetime and annual syphilis testing rates in Australian gay men, but low retesting rates. We identified factors associated with less frequent syphilis testing rates among Australian gay men to assist in developing targeted screening strategies.


  • Journal: Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Published: 01/04/2012
  • Volume: 39
  • Issue: 4
  • Pagination: 268-275