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September 26, 1977

Homosexuality—A Risk Factor in Infectious Disease

JAMA. 1977;238(13):1402. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280140080031

Concentration on the moral, psychological, religious, social, and legal facets of homosexuality have long obscured its medical-epidemiologic ramifications. With the lifting of the fog of secrecy that surrounded the gay way of life, the vulnerability of the homosexual to diseases that are sexually transmitted but are not generally categorized as venereal (strictly speaking, Venus cannot be implicated in this situation, even if the disease is syphilis or gonorrhea) is becoming increasingly apparent.

The inclusion of the mouth and anus within the orbit of sexual activity carries with it risks of exposure to enteric pathogens. It is thus not surprising that homosexual men have been reported to contract giardiasis,1 shigellosis,2 and amebiasis3 in areas where these diseases are not endemic. In a retrospective scrutiny of the New York Hospital records during a five-year period, Schmerin and his associates (p 1386) noted that Entamoeba histolytica was found in the