AIDS Healthcare Foundation Asks Los Angeles County Health Officials To Improve Awareness of Syphilis Outbreak
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation last week asked Los Angeles County health officials to do more to address a 62% increase in syphilis cases in 2002 among men who have sex with men, many of whom have HIV, Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/27/02). "You can't find condoms in most of West Hollywood's bars, and the county is sending out its mobile STD van only two days this month," AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said, adding, "You can't stop an outbreak of this kind without prevention, testing and treatment. On all those counts our public health authorities are failing" (AIDS Healthcare Foundation release, 12/26/02). A county Department of Health Services report released on Dec. 15 found that of the 507 new syphilis cases reported in the first 11 months of 2002, 62% involved men who have sex with men, and six out of 10 of those cases involved HIV-positive men. Dr. Paul DenOuden, a doctor with AHF, said, "There could be two reasons for so many cases being reported primarily among the HIV-infected. Either they are being exposed more often to syphilis, or routine syphilis screening at AIDS clinics simply catches a bigger percentage within this population." Weinstein called for additional centers to test for syphilis and more outreach programs (Reuters, 12/27/02). According to the CDC, the Los Angeles outbreak is part of an increase in syphilis rates statewide. Karen Mall, director of prevention for AHF, attributed the increase in part to the fact that "gay men may be tuning out after having heard safe sex messages for years," the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 12/27/02).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.