Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Group differences in gonorrhea

This new study examines US patterns of gonorrhea from 2000 to 2015. In 2015, there were almost 400,000 cases reported. Over the 16-year study period, there were 21 million cases. There are two distinct epidemics currently occurring in the US: one among young black heterosexuals, and one among men who have sex with other men (MSM). (Can we attach some meaning to the fact that MSM also stands for 'mainstream media'?)

Hispanics have an infection rate that is 1.8 times higher than among whites. For blacks, it's 9.6 times higher than for whites. Even though MSM's are a tiny sliver of American men, they account for 67% of all infections in males.

The authors claim that one's number of sex partners is an inadequate explanation for what we see. I'm sure there are other factors (e.g., differences in condom use), but gonorrhea rates have got to be an alternative to measuring sexual behavior with self-reports. Surveys don't indicate such enormous group differences, but the pattern of disease suggests that compared to straight white people, blacks and MSM's get around.

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