In emulation of gay idols such as Smetana and Mussolini, the 'mos are bringing the 19th century back. Syphilis! Yes! There's been 260 cases in New York City in the first three months of this year, more than double the diagnoses in the same period last year. (260 still doesn't sound like much—but that's how it works with a very exclusive disease.) You should be so lucky as to have the syph— especially now that our local papers have finally cottoned on to this trendy trend. And guess what? 96% of the cases were men. Hi, gays!
This syphilis outbreak is especially very good news for academic economists who need real-world models to which they might apply theories which then sort of disprove their theories! As Steven Landsburg of the University of Rochester proved recently, when the chaste become slightly less chaste, they keep the rest of us from getting the STDs. (This is based almost solely on the idea that people with more partners are intrinsically more likely to have HIV, by the way, an idea that falls apart when you run the real-world numbers. This is to say, there is quite a large number of totally slutty people who do not have HIV; a statistically meaningful number of slutty people do not have unsafe sex. So while you can claim that many gay men with HIV are associated with a history of sluttery, it's a fallacy to reverse-engineer that claim.)
We figure, by extension to Landsburg's arguments, that when a small segment of the population becomes increasingly intra-whorey—when they cluster on sex services like Manhunt, or they self-select as a common-interest group, such as with crystal meth users—they keep that disease pool chock-full but also isolated. If a gay doesn't want to hook up online with crystal meth users, he is excluded entirely from that pool. Therefore, there's no way that non-methy non-Manhunty gays can get syphilis; also, the meth-Manhunt crowd has bigger problems to deal with, so syphilis isn't really a big deal for them anyhoo!
Also, the Department of Health has no word on how many of the new syphilis infections were with people who'd been infected before.
That's an important number. There's a way in which the importance of multiple infections can be seen with non-people-communicable (I know, not a real term!) diseases as well. For instance, when Martha Stewart is repeatedly infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, giving her The Lyme, which of course was hot like three seasons ago and now is sort of shameful, she keeps others from getting Lyme disease. This is true in at least one way: by identifying and exterminating ticks on her body, she performs a public service—she gets Lyme that others might have gotten, and then also prevents those ticks from spreading it to others. Yay Martha.
And when a gay comes down with T. pallidum pallidum for a second (or a fifth, if they're really lucky!) time, it's a decent assumption that he's more likely to have it treated, and more likely to be under medical care. Just as Martha Stewart knows what to do when her joints start throbbing, a syphilitic gay knows what to do when things start getting chancre-ey, whereas first-timers might not seek treatment for an outbreak when it later fades away.
So economics and logic can prove that reinfections are actually good for all of us.
So with this current outbreak of syphilis, we should consider ourself encouraged, not alarmed! Not only are the infected gays returning to their cultural and aesthetic roots with their indulgence in syphilis, they're also doing the rest of us a favor. By hogging up all the projected numbers of syphilis cases, they're literally preventing the rest of us from getting syphilis ourselves. Because that's the way numbers work, as any of the Freakonomics set will tell you. There's just no more syphilis left for the rest of us to get!