Some STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are rare, which means that whereas the promiscuous will have a several-fold higher prevalence of these STIs, the absolute prevalence of STIs among the promiscuous will be low/very low. Correspondingly, if an STI is relatively common, then the odds of the promiscuous being more likely to have it will not be considerably greater compared to the non-promiscuous. These issues need to be kept in mind when looking at the medical literature since the general picture from the literature on STIs and HIV/AIDS is that homosexually behaving individuals are responsible for a disproportionately high share of the overall venereal diseases/HIV burden. Whereas a number of studies documenting this observation are not based on random sampling, the find is generally consistent across studies and is in excellent agreement with population-representative studies. The data are consistent with the greater promiscuity of homosexually behaving individuals and/or higher rates of anal sex among these individuals and/or a greater susceptibility to contracting STDs and HIV among these individuals. An examination of the literature will easily show that both greater promiscuity and higher rates of anal sex are implicated.

Generic examples

Promiscuity and venereal diseases in the 2000 British Natsal survey. See the right thumbnail for data from population-representative British surveys in 1990 and 2000. Homosexually behaving men and women are clearly responsible for a disproportionately high STI burden.1

Additional examples:

  • In a 1996 national sample of 1,852 New Zealand MSM (men who have sex with men), 26.2% had been for a sexual health check-up/treatment in the previous 12 months, and the self-reported history of various infections was as follows: hepatitis-A (7%), hepatitis-B (8%), hepatitis-C (1.8%), any hepatitis infection (14.9%); an STD infection (37.1%) such as gonorrhea [anal (4.4%), oral (3.0%), penile (13.6%)], Chlamydia (17%), syphilis (3.6%), herpes [anal (1.9%), genital (6.9%)], and anal warts (11.7%); or any of the above (42.8%).2
  • In the 1991 New Zealand Partner Relations Survey, a history of STDs was reported by 10.4% of men and 54% of MSM.3
  • A 1990 report from a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida clinic noted that up to 55% of homosexual men with anorectal symptoms had gonorrhea, 80% of the patients with syphilis were homosexual men, 15% of asymptomatic homosexual men had Chlamydia, and about 1 in 3 male homosexuals had active anorectal herpes simplex infection. Additionally, intestinal infections that normally result from eating food contaminated with human feces were rampant in the homosexual community.4
  • In 1997, 17% of a random sample of MSM in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago were found to be HIV-positive.5

Anal cancer

  • In the mid-20th century, male homosexuals constituted about 8% of men afflicted with anal cancer; by the mid-1980s, this figure had risen to 72%. 4 The transmission of certain types of human papilloma viruses explains the association of anal intercourse with anal cancer.6 Anal carcinomas among male homosexuals can approach 4-7 inches in diameter.7
  • In an examination of 3,391 Danish men in registered homosexual partnerships, followed for an average of 4.6 years, the incidence of anal cancer (0.12%) was 31-fold higher compared to Danish men in general.8

Kaposi's sarcoma

In an examination of 3,391 Danish men in registered homosexual partnerships, followed for an average of 4.6 years, the incidence of Kaposi’s sarcoma (1.12%) was 136-fold higher compared to Danish men in general.8 Whereas 0-9% of heterosexuals are infected with Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV), 15-60% of male homosexuals are infected with KSHV.9, 10, 11, 12, 13


  • During 1982-1989, MSM constituted less than 10% of individuals with hepatitis-A, but during the first 6 months of 1991, 29% of the hepatitis-A cases in Denver, 66% in New York City, 50% in San Francisco, 56% in Toronto, 42% in Montreal, and 26% in Melbourne consisted of homosexuals.14 Between Nov 1998 and May 1999, among the reported cases of hepatitis-A in Columbus, Ohio, 66% of the men were MSM.15
  • In a sample of 735 MSM in San Francisco, 4.6% had hepatitis-C infection and 81% had hepatitis-B infection; 89% among the HIV-positive and 68% among the HIV-negative had hepatitis-B infection.16 Hepatitis-B appears to be transmitted 8.6-fold more efficiently than HIV-1 among homosexual men, according to a study.17
  • The hepatitis-C virus used to be mainly transmitted via sharing needles for intravenous drug use and blood or plasma transfusions. However, a 2003 reported that male homosexuals have started to make a significant contribution to the spread of the hepatitis-C virus via risky sexual behaviors.18


  • During the 1990s, syphilis occurred predominantly among African-American heterosexuals in the South and in large cities. In Seattle, syphilis declined from 1987 to 1996, but a syphilis outbreak occurred around 1997. The outbreak was traced to a cluster of homosexuals. 68% of syphilis patients were MSM, among whom 66% were also HIV-positive. Most MSM were 30 years or older (i.e., old enough to know what they were doing) and had recruited many anonymous partners.19
  • As above, a syphilis outbreak occurred among MSM during January-July, 2000 in Southern California.20 57 among 66 syphilis-afflicted homosexuals knew their HIV status; 34 (60%) of the 57 reported that they were HIV-positive. The year of HIV diagnosis was known for 27 of the 34 HIV-positive homosexuals; the median time since diagnosis of HIV infection was 4 years (range: 0-19 years). Once again, homosexuals who knew that they were HIV-positive still went on to have unprotected sex.
  • As of 2003, the incidence of syphilis was on the rise in San Francisco, mostly occurring among MSM, and two-thirds of the new cases were occurring in individuals already infected with HIV.21
  • A syphilis outbreak occurred during 1999-2000, in Oslo, Norway; of 60 cases examined at a hospital, 55 were men, and 43/55 men were MSM.22
  • From 1990 to 2001, early infectious syphilis and (ano)genital gonorrhea among those attending an outpatient STD clinic of the Amsterdam municipal health service sharply increased; homosexual men were almost entirely responsible for this increase. Syphilis increased mostly among men aged 35 years or older and gonorrhea increased mostly among younger men.23
  • A July 2004 report mentioned the emergence of a drug-resistant (azithromycin-resistant) mutant syphilis strain, disproportionately among [often HIV-positive] MSM. (24)


  • It hardly needs mentioning who gets rectal gonorrhea. Homosexuals also get gonorrhea in the penis (urethral gonorrhea) and mouth (pharyngeal gonorrhea).24 Rectal gonorrhea and pharyngeal gonorrhea are often symptomless;25 besides, a visual examination of the perianal region of male homosexuals will often misdiagnose rectal gonorrhea as trauma due to a variety of homosexual practices, i.e., the male homosexual community is ideally poised to function as a reservoir of the gonorrhea pathogen.
  • Between 1997-1999, among Swedish men who contracted gonorrhea, 28.9% were homosexual. Among Swedish men who contracted gonorrhea from overseas travel, 11.4% were homosexual; among men who contracted the STD domestically, 41.1% were homosexual.26
  • During the period 1994-1999, in Denmark, the incidence of gonorrhea among MSM was 30 times that among heterosexual men.27
  • A 2004 U.S. report mentioned increasing drug-resistant gonorrhea among MSM; the prevalence of this drug-resistant form of gonorrhea was 12-fold higher in MSM compared to the general population.28

Parasitic intestinal infections

  • Parasitic intestinal infections are common among male homosexuals; they result from the consumption of fecal material via rimming and other sexual practices. A sexual transmission of typhoid, and a first of its kind in the U.S., occurred among a group of male homosexuals in 2000.29
  • Amebic liver abscess, a disease usually found in developing tropical countries is found elsewhere among individuals who have visited these countries and also among MSM.30
  • Between December 1999 and November 2001, multidrug-resistant C. jejuni jejuni was found in the intestines of some male homosexuals in Montreal, Canada, and appeared to have been acquired via sexual activity.31

Other infections

  • Not only did homosexuals bring about the AIDS epidemic in America, the weakened immune system of AIDS patients brought a resurgence of tuberculosis, too. Health care workers that deal with AIDS patients risk getting tuberculosis.32
  • A 2003 U.S. report mentioned the emergence of a multidrug-resistant bacterial skin infection among homosexual men in some cities and also some prisons. Previously, this infection was mainly limited to hospitals.33

Repeated infections

A study examined STD patients most likely to re-infect themselves soon after treatment. Among 17,466 patients attending 3 STD clinics in England between 1994 and 1998, 14% re-infected themselves within 1 year.34 Groups that were the most likely to get re-infected were:

  • 17% of individuals reporting three or more partners in the recent past [Adjusted OR = 1.53; 95% CI = 1.34-1.73, compared to those with a single partner in the recent past.].
  • 20% of 12- to 15-year-old women [Adjusted OR = 1.90; 95% CI = 1.13-3.18, compared to women, ages 20-24 years.].
  • 25% of Caribbean attendees of African origin [Adjusted OR = 1.87; 95% CI = 1.63-2.13, compared to whites.].
  • And, of course, 22% of homosexual men [Adjusted OR = 1.30; 95% CI = 1.07-1.58, compared to heterosexual men.].

Clearly, not all risky sexual behaviors follow from a lack of knowledge of risks. An STD infection is the ultimate form of safe-sex education with respect to definitively convincing the afflicted that they need to practice safe sex; however, such education fails to convince some individuals. Can classroom education for such individuals be expected to fare better? Besides, sometimes the only way to avoid the risks associated with some risky activity is to avoid the activity altogether, which is asking too much of homosexuals and bisexuals in general.


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