Social media impacts the rise of syphilis in Montana - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Social media impacts the rise of syphilis in Montana

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Syphilis is making an unexpected comeback in Montana.

There have been twenty-six cases confirmed in Montana already this year.

Jim Murphy, Bureau Chief of Communicable Disease Control in Montana said that twenty of the cases this year have been with males and the other six with females in Montana.

Jim explained that syphilis is most common with young homosexual males, specifically those who are twenty to thirty-nine years old, so the CDC is focusing their efforts on this high risk group.

Homosexual men account for nine of the twenty-six cases in Montana.

However, Jim said as the cases continue to come in they are seeing more heterosexual cases.

Jim believes social media has a large impact on the rise of syphilis.

He said that young people are using dating applications and websites to find sexual partners.

Jim said, "They may be coming into contact with more sexual partners. And then when public health intervenes and tries to do a follow up to try and figure out who is at risk, who was exposed, so we can offer them testing and treatment. Often those folks are not locatable."

This kind of behavior increases the risk because people are using these dating applications and websites to find random sexual partners and in most cases, don't know their medical history, which means many cases go unidentified.

Jim said this is most common with young homosexual men who use Grindr and Craigslist.

The Communicable Disease Control Center is working with prevention contractors in Montana to post awareness messages about syphilis on Grindr and Craigslist, to help stop this illness from spreading.

Jim said, “So as people are out there looking for their next partner, they can see a little bit of a message there that's telling them that syphilis is on the rise in Montana, and that they can learn about this and they can get tested."

The CDC is using the same platform of social media to help prevent this illness from spreading.

In order to protect yourself from getting syphilis, Jim said that it is important to always use protection and to limit your number of sexual partners.

Most of the cases have been reported in Yellowstone and Missoula counties.

Jim is not surprised because those areas are the most populated, so people can have more partners.

Jim said that it is important to know your own and your partners medical history to help prevent this illness from spreading.

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