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Am J Public Health. 2015 Mar;105(3):e88-94. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302412. Epub 2015 Jan 20.

Acceptable interventions to reduce syphilis transmission among high-risk men who have sex with men in Los Angeles.

Author information

At the time of study, Shauna Stahlman and Marjan Javanbakht were with the Department of Epidemiology, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles. Aaron Plant, Jorge A. Montoya, and Peter R. Kerndt were with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles. John Cross and Robert Bolan were with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, Los Angeles.



We examined perceptions of and attitudes toward existing and potential syphilis interventions, including case management and Web-based programs, to increase syphilis testing among high-risk men who have sex with men (MSM).


Between October 2010 and June 2011, we conducted in-depth interviews with 19 MSM in Los Angeles, California, with repeat early syphilis infections (primary, secondary, and early latent syphilis) within the previous 5 years. We analyzed the interviews inductively to determine the most acceptable potential interventions.


Experiences with health department and community-based standard of care case management were generally positive. The most popular interventions among respondents included a Web site providing information on syphilis and syphilis testing, automated Web reminders to test, being paid to test, free online home testing kits, and preexposure prophylactic medication. Respondents' beliefs that they would continue to practice high-risk sexual behaviors reinforced their reasons for wanting increased accessibility and convenient testing strategies.


Public health officials should consider participant responses to potential interventions for syphilis, which suggest that high-risk MSM would consider testing more often or using other interventions.

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