March 26, 2009

Group sex parties tied to syphilis cases

Group sex parties may have led to an Oklahoma syphilis outbreak among teenagers, including two who learned they had syphilis and HIV, health officials said.

We are still looking to see if (sex parties and syphilis) are related and how they are related, Jan Fox, chief of sexual transmitted disease services for Oklahoma's Health Department, told The Oklahoman.

Health officials said 10 reported cases among boys and girls in central Oklahoma in the past four weeks may be linked to teenage parties where unprotected group sex is encouraged.

One teen couple recently learned they had both syphilis and the human immunodeficiency virus that can lead to AIDS, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department said.

The group sex parties are something happening among teens, Fox told the newspaper.

The syphilis cases all resulted from heterosexual sexual contact, health officials said.

Syphilis can generally be treated with antibiotics, including penicillin. But if left untreated, it can damage the heart, aorta, brain, eyes and bones, health officials say.

In some cases it can cause serious birth defects and can be fatal, officials say.

Fox called the 10 teen cases in a month's time disturbing.

For parents, this is very alarming, she said.