ORANGE COUNTY: Teens Seek STD Screening
More than 10,000 Orange County residents will seek testing for HIV this year, and twice that number -- many of them teens -- will seek screening at the county's Health Care Agency clinic for other STDs, including herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis B. The fear of STDs has heightened in Southern California in recent weeks after the Los Angeles County Health Department announced an outbreak of syphilis among gay men. While Orange County officials have not seen a similar outbreak, they anticipate a "steady stream of people seeking help" at their clinic, which offers free testing. Penny Weismuller, the county's division manager for disease control, said that many of the teens who visit the Health Care Agency clinic in Santa Ana are frightened. "Some teens who come are afraid to even tell their parents," she said, explaining, "They know they have made a choice sexually that they are worried about." According to the American Social Health Association, one in four teens will contract an STD. "Because we've got new treatments to help AIDS patients, some people think that somehow the problem of STDs has died down. We've seen a recent increase in risky behavior among young people," Weismuller said (Hicks, Los Angeles Times, 4/10).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.