Bisexuality fuels NYC syphilis outbreak

Bill Weintraub

Bill Weintraub

Bisexuality fuels NYC syphilis outbreak


Syphilis Cases on the Increase in the City


Published: August 12, 2007

It was a scourge of centuries past, a disease that ravaged the body and brain, drove geniuses to madness and slowly brought its victims to a terrible death.

But syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease that was so rare by 1998 that federal health officials had planned to declare it eliminated by 2005, has made a troubling comeback in New York City and across the nation. In the first three months of this year, more than twice as many syphilis cases were diagnosed than were in the first quarter of 2006, according to the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

In recent years, the disease has been most common in men who have sex with men. But now, health officials say they are concerned about an increase in cases among women in New York, following a trend seen nationally beginning in 2005. After a decade with almost no female cases, health officials said the jump among women was possibly fueled by an increase in the number of men having sex with both men and women.

City health officials said they were receiving more reports of bisexual behavior among men. And Dr. Stuart Berman, an epidemiologist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that in the last few years, New York men with syphilis had reported engaging in bisexual behavior more often than men with the disease in other cities.

Syphilis is highly contagious and can be hard to detect, but is easily curable with antibiotics. Untreated in pregnant women, it can cause stillbirth, severe birth defects and infant death.

The raw numbers are relatively modest -- 260 cases in New York for the first quarter of 2007, including 10 among women -- but they also contain a troubling signal: risky behaviors and unsafe sex appear to be on the rise. And many health experts warned that a spike in H.I.V. cases could come on the heels of the syphilis outbreak.

"There is risk going on out there," said Perry N. Halkitis, a professor of applied psychology at New York University who is studying the connection between the use of highly addictive drugs like methamphetamine and unsafe sex. "Most certainly you are going to see an increase in H.I.V. transmission."

Federal health officials estimate that those infected with syphilis are two to five times more likely to become infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, because of the open sores caused by syphilis. But doctors said that because syphilis was on the decline until recently -- medical providers do not routinely screen for it except in pregnant women -- many people do not suspect the sores are a sign of infection.

There is debate over when syphilis, caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, first appeared, but historians said it became a global plague in the 16th century. It was called "the great pox," to distinguish it from smallpox and because of the large, blistered rashes that occur in the late stages.

A pantheon of historic figures and artists, including Al Capone, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec, are believed to have died of syphilis, and some historians have suspected that others, including Hitler and Lenin, suffered from undiagnosed cases of the disease.

Syphilis cases significantly declined with the advent of penicillin during World War II.

The disease can look and feel like so many other ailments that it is also known as "the great imitator." In the final stage, as long as 30 years after initial infection, it can cause severe damage to many internal organs, depression, blindness and fits of creativity, and ultimately, death.

It can easily be spread through oral sex, unlike some other sexually transmitted diseases, and is passed through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Symptoms occur an average of 21 days after infection, according to federal health officials, but they can take as long as 90 days to appear.

The first sign is often a small, firm and round lesion at the point of the body where the disease was contracted. The lesion is painless and will heal without treatment, so many people are not aware they are infected.

In 2005, the last year for which comparable federal data was available, the city's syphilis rate, 7.7 instances per 100,000 people, was more than double the national average of 3.0 per 100,000.

Federal and local health officials said the rising rates of infection could be attributed to several factors: substance abuse that leads to increased sexual activity and unsafe sex; unsafe sex among people already infected with H.I.V.; complacency about the risks of H.I.V. infection and what some call "condom fatigue," as the vigilance that surrounded the early days of the AIDS epidemic has faded; and less fear of H.I.V. infection as the progress in treatment for AIDS means that a diagnosis is often no longer a death sentence.

The last time city health officials reported a significant syphilis outbreak, in the 1990s, it was linked to unsafe sex that accompanied the crack epidemic. That outbreak was concentrated largely in poor neighborhoods outside Manhattan, whereas the current one is centered in Manhattan, with infected men living in Chelsea [a gay neighborhood] accounting for a majority of the cases.

Blacks and Hispanics accounted for most new cases of syphilis, according to the city's recent survey, but whites experienced faster rates of increase. The 2007 numbers showed the incidence among white men was three times the incidence during the same period in 2006.

A prominent theory nationally is that the methamphetamine epidemic has given rise to the syphilis comeback -- and the greater risk for H.I.V. infection -- because the highly addictive drug can cause hypersexuality, leading users to have frequent sex with multiple partners, often without taking precautions.

Susan Blank, New York City's commissioner for sexually transmitted disease prevention and control, said the department had no data to prove that crystal methamphetamine addiction was responsible for higher syphilis rates.

But Professor Halkitis, who is writing a book about methamphetamine, said drug abuse in New York was unquestionably driving rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr. Blank said the health department was alerting New Yorkers and their health care providers about the importance of screening for syphilis, offering free and confidential testing at all of its public clinics.

The increase in cases among women also highlights the need to learn the sexual history of partners, health officials say, as some women may not know that their partners have had sex with men.

The department launched a campaign in February to distribute millions of free condoms, and for those with a syphilis infection, it will confidentially notify sexual partners.

[emphases mine]

Bill Weintraub:

For years, we've been told that gay and straight are two discrete categories, which never cross.

That the gay population is tiny and stable.

And that "bisexuals" are very rare.

Yet, according to the NYC Dept of Public Health, the increase in syphilis is being "fueled by an increase in the number of men having sex with both men and women."

How can that be?


If there are two discrete populations -- which in the popular mind today are in some mysterious way genetically determined -- why would the numbers of one suddenly increase?

Indeed, this is not the first time we've heard of an increase in "bisexuality" in New York City.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in September 2006 and which we reported on a few weeks later, said that after interviewing 4000 men,

Of the more than 90% who identified themselves as heterosexual, one in 10 later disclosed that they had had sex with a man within the past year.

So, in that study, 10% of the guys who identified as heterosexual had also had sex with a man -- in the last year.

And what that study, which was conducted over the phone, doesn't tell you, is

  1. How many of the straight-identified guys concealed that they'd had sex with another guy; and -- more important --

  2. How many of the straight-identified guys WANT to have sex with another guy.

    Fantasize about it.

    Get rock hard and jerk off thinking about it.

    Imagine doing it with a guy even as their having sex with their wives or other women.

    But haven't -- at least yet -- acted on it.

That's the reality of bisexuality in a society like our own.

What's more, from our point of view, that study had at least two HUGE design flaws.

First off, when asking the men about sex and about sex with other men, the interviewer was instructed to say,

"By sex we mean oral, vaginal, or anal sex, but NOT masturbation."

[emphasis in original]

So the survey completely -- surprise surprise -- eliminated guys like US -- FROT GUYS -- and what is easily the MOST COMMON form of male-male sex particularly between and among "straight-identified" and "nongay-identified" MEN who have sex with MEN.

And which is actually practiced by a SIGNIFICANT number of gay-identified MEN as well.

Why did the survey do that?

In theory, because the survey was concerned, as viturally all such surveys are, with HIV prevention.

And of course, you can't get HIV from "masturbation."

But -- don't you think the surveyors might have asked anyway?

I do.

I think what the surveyors revealed, in defining "sex" as they did, is a huge and pervasive bias against TRUE MAN2MAN SEX.

And I mean that.

It's an analist bias.

A pansexualist bias.

A gender feminist bias.

An AIDS Inc bias.

It's a bias, it's a prejudice --

and it's severe.

What's more, the survey also excluded men who self-identified as "bisexual":

Persons who reported bisexual identity or behavior were enumerated but were excluded from the main analysis.

And again that had to do with the basic purpose of the study, which is titled "Discordance between Sexual Behavior and Self-Reported Sexual Identity" -- that purpose being AIDS prevention.

Again, it's always AIDS prevention.

And the reason I'm complaining about that is that it's very difficult for people to get funding simply to study -- S-E-X.

Because the religious right, which now controls so much of the funding for this sort of science, has conniption fits about sex.

So the research has to be done under the rubric of "AIDS prevention."

And one result is that we know next to nothing, statiscally speaking, about MEN like ourselves, whose RISK AVOIDANCE behavior knocks them completely off the "AIDS prevention" radar.

In other words, Western -- that's American and EU -- MSM HIV prevention is defined as risk reduction -- "Use a condom, every time, every time."

Despite the unquestioned success of RISK AVOIDANCE in Uganda and Holland.

Not to mention among guys like ourselves.

Again, we're just edited out.


Because MSM "AIDS activists" and "AIDS prevention experts" won't talk about RISK AVOIDANCE, which they frame as playing into an "anti-sex" agenda.






That's just how it is.

That's just what it is.

That simple fact may interfere with the "professionals" and the "experts" a priori view of the universe -- but, you know, dude, that's too fucking bad.

Because AIDS prevention, like anything else in the real world, has to be EVIDENCE-based.

NOT "consensus-based."

EVIDENCE-based prevention looks at behavior.

And what it sees, with MSM, is that AVOIDING ANAL -- AVOIDS AIDS.

Consensus-based prevention looks at chimeras and fantasies -- such as poverty causes AIDS, meth causes AIDS, war causes AIDS, homophobia causes AIDS, stigma causes AIDS.

When there's actually NO EVIDENCE that any of that is true.

Focusing on homophobia and war etc enables these "AIDS prevention experts," many of whom are gay-identified, to ignore the nasty reality that AIDS is spread among MSM by anal penetration.

What about meth?

Here's how that plays out in the Times article:

A prominent theory nationally is that the methamphetamine epidemic has given rise to the syphilis comeback -- and the greater risk for H.I.V. infection -- because the highly addictive drug can cause hypersexuality, leading users to have frequent sex with multiple partners, often without taking precautions.

Susan Blank, New York City's commissioner for sexually transmitted disease prevention and control, said the department had no data to prove that crystal methamphetamine addiction was responsible for higher syphilis rates.

So: there's a "prominent theory" -- meth "has given rise to the syphilis comeback."

And then there's the Reality that there's NO evidence to back up that theory:

NO data to prove that crystal methamphetamine addiction was responsible for higher syphilis rates.

How do our "AIDS prevention experts" respond?

But Professor Halkitis, who is writing a book about methamphetamine, said drug abuse in New York was unquestionably driving rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

Based on what professor?

I guess it's based on his say-so.

Because this is the sort of guy who doesn't like to get confused by the facts.

And he's writing a book, so I guess he's not completely disinterested -- is he?

What's he got in his book, most likely, are anecdotal accounts:

I did meth, I lost control, I got infected.

The popular press -- the mainstream media -- have carried such accounts for years.

But those accounts are just anecdotes.

That's all they are.

They don't demonstrate causation.

And for every one of those, there are two or three or five or ten which say:

I didn't do meth, I lost control, I got infected.


I got infected cause I wanted to get infected.

That happens too.

It happens a lot.

And it's something else which AIDS Inc would rather not discuss.

Because it points very graphically to just how much volition is involved in the ongoing MSM epidemic.

It reminds people of those myriad ways in which the behavior of the gay male community is, in Larry Kramer's word, murderous.

And predatory.

So meth is a canard.

A red herring.

As I've pointed out, before there was meth, there was alcohol.

There's always something.

But that something does not cause AIDS.

Risk behavior causes AIDS.

And the risk behavior for MSM is buttfucking aka shitsex aka painsex aka diseasesex.

And every gay male knows it.

So: There's no question that if you do drugs and buttfuck, you may get infected with HIV -- and / or syphilis.

But the fact is, as we've seen before, that if you do NOT do drugs and you buttfuck, chances are still very good that you'll get infected with HIV -- and / or syph.

The drugs are NOT the risk behavior.

ANAL PENETRATION is the risk behavior.

It's the ANAL.

Talking about meth takes the heat off of anal.

Convenient if you're a male into anal.

But a big mistake if you're trying to PREVENT AIDS.

Or syph.

Or any other anally-vectored disease.

These "AIDS prevention" folks need to figure that out, and the best way to help them along that road is to let the public know that whole categories of Men whose behavior has kept them HIV-free are routinely IGNORED and EDITED OUT not just of the picture but of the RESEARCH by "AIDS experts" because of an IDEOLOGICAL agenda.

Oh yeah.

Letting the public know about that would have, as Gore Vidal likes to say, a wholesome effect.

How bout it guys?

Should we let the public know?

It would take some money to do that.

You know -- money.

As in donations.

So -- we've got a flawed study, and it's flawed because of the cultural biases of the researchers.

Nevertheless, and just looking at the figures these researchers obtained using those very limited and flawed criteria, which eliminated men into JO and mutual masturbation and Frot, and which eliminated men who self-define as bisexual --

what's clear is that, just as we saw with the article on the mathematics of promiscuity --

There's myth and there's reality.

The myth is that "real men" -- men who fuck women -- don't have sex with other men.

That's a lie.

Men have sex with women.

Men have sex with men.

Always have.

Always will.

And it's not what makes your dick hard

that makes you a MAN

it's your willingness to


That's the hallmark of a Man.

Not who he's sleeping with.

But Fighting Spirit.

So just as we saw in the Myth-Math-Sex article that there's a myth about male promiscuity which is a lie --

now we see that there's a myth about "straight" guys which is also a lie.

And we see too that the strict division which "gay" pundits like Dan Savage and the gay establishment make between gay and straight is a HUGE LIE.

Perpetrated for political ends -- and no other.

The TRUTH about MEN is that they're bisexual.

The TRUTH about HUMAN BEINGS is that they're bisexual.

And to the extent that there's any valid divider between human beings, it's not gay-straight, which is utterly and completely false --


That's the divider.

And as my foreign friend pointed out in Are some men naturally macho,

As a rule a masculine-identified man, is likely to go for feminine- identified females and masculine-identified males. His interest in the female is generally periodical and short-lived, whether or not it is intense. Furthermore he is more likely to go for any female without showing much preference (i.e. indiscriminately). In other words he is not likely to be particular about the female he choses to sleep with --- except that she is feminine, soft and submissive. There is not much chance of a desire for emotional attachment with the female though. In fact that is what a masculine-identified male is really afraid of.

His interest in a male bond is however likely to be long term --- even lifelong, emotional and monogamous (as far as nature is concerned). He is also likely to be very choosy in his choice of a male partner.

In other words masculine-identified men are promiscuous with regard to women, but monogamous vis a vis men.

[emphases mine]


A Man with a strong Masculine identity is more likely to be promiscuous with women and MONOGAMOUS with another MAN.

How bout that for a complete and utter reversal of the myth that men who love women are more faithful than men who love men?

It's interesting in that regard, and something for us to consider further, that in that Annals of Internal Medicine survey, the authors noted that

Gay-identified men who have sex with men report a higher average number of sexual partners, and the majority of straight-identified men who have sex with men (96%) report 1 sexual partner (a man) in the previous year.


Gay-identified men who have sex with men in New York City were found to exhibit sexual behaviors that put them at higher risk than other men for HIV infection and STD acquisition

Why would that be?

Because as we discussed in the myth of male promiscuity, culture and cultural assumptions matter.

Gay male culture encourages promiscuity.

And it encourages "higher risk" behavior -- that is, anal.

And again, it's very frustrating because the study completely ignored guys who are outside of the ANAL-AIDS loop.

Of course we're also outside of the anal-promiscuity-effeminacy loop:

We've replaced that loop with a very different one:

Yet we're ignored.

Thus perpetuating yet another myth and another lie -- about what it is sexually that most MEN actually do.

Guys -- there are a LOT of lies -- a LOT -- out there about MEN WHO LOVE MEN.

Problem is -- they can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Don't be deceived by them.

The True MAN -- the Naturally Masculine and Manly Man -- is not just capable of but does LOVE another MAN -- his Warrior-brother.

The True MAN -- the Naturally Masculine and Manly Man -- is faithful to his Warrior-brother.

Faithful unto death.

He may be promiscuous with women -- or he may not be.


And he is without question FAITHFUL to his WARRIOR BROTHER.

And it's more than time that not just we, but the world, reawakened to that essential Truth about MAN, MEN, MANHOOD, and MASCULINITY.

This post is on this board because there's been an outbreak of syphilis in New York City.

Being spread not by Men who Love Men --

but by males who have sex with males.

Those males represent, as my foreign friend says, the "negativised and mutilated remnants of male-male sex that survive after the intense oppression of them in the mainstream" -- in the mainstream, that is, of heterosexualized society.

Guys, when you see disease, what you're seeing are those mutilated and negativised remnants at work.

Because Men who Love Men do not create disease.

Loyalty, Honor, Love, Devotion -- those are the creations of Men who Love Men.

Brotherhood -- what Redd calls Warriorhood.

That's what we see in the Heroic past.

That's what we can have in the Heroic future.

"The Way of the Warrior is the Way of Salvation."

The Warrior protects his society against predators.

He protects his society against disease.

He lives a life which is austere, affiliative, and aggressive.

He understands and makes manifest the relationship between aggression and attraction.

And in so doing, he makes possible the True Love of Man for Man.

Bill Weintraub

August 19, 2007

© All material Copyright 2007 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.

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