In 2009, the state of Alaska reported only five cases of the sexually transmitted infection, syphilis; however, since that time, the number of cases have increased eightfold, according to data from the State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology (SOE).
2014 saw the number of syphilis cases rise to 40 with 31 (84%) of whom identified as gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (MSM).
Other key findings include six (15%) were in persons who were co-infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea, and 4 (10%) were in persons coinfected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); three (8%) were in persons who were subsequently diagnosed with neurosyphilis, two of whom experienced ocular involvement.
In addition, the investigation into the 2014 cases revealed that 31 (80%) reported multiple or anonymous partners and 25 (63%) reported that they sought sexual partners via the internet and phone apps (e.g., Craigslist, Grindr, Scruff).
Health officials note that the ongoing syphilis outbreak continues to be fueled in part by persons engaging in anonymous sex, often with partners found through the internet and mobile phone apps.
To date in 2015, Alaska has seen two syphilis cases.