SAN FRANCISCO II: High STD Rates Spark ‘Unusual’ Campaign
The San Francisco Department of Public Health is sponsoring an "unusual safe-sex campaign" to encourage more young people to get tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Last Saturday, five health workers and members of the radio station KMEL ventured to the Cat Club to distribute condoms and pamphlets about safe sex. For two weeks, the team will return to the same club, hoping that by the third and final week of the campaign, they will have earned the "trust and goodwill of club owner Tony Carracci to set up a testing lab in the bathrooms." New urine tests that can determine if patients have chlamydia or gonorrhea are sparking the campaign. Jacqueline McCright, director of the health department's community programs for STDs said that because "women and men don't have to endure the painful examinations," they will be more likely to agree to the testing. Among all San Franciscans, the rate of chlamydia infection is 371 per 100,000 and 219 per 100,000 for gonorrhea. For people age 21 and younger, the rates climb to 2,057 per 100,000 for chlamydia and 580 per 100,000 for gonorrhea. McCright said, "Now that we have this test, there's no reason for people to walk around with it and not know it."
Club owner Carracci was unaware of the campaign until informed by a reporter and even then expressed skepticism. But he said he would be open to the idea. "I suppose we can try it and see how it goes," he said. KMEL employee Glorious Wise also said the campaign was a good idea, but wondered about being tested at a club. She said, "I don't think a club atmosphere is appropriate ... I assume if something wasn't right, I would just go to the clinic or to a doctor." But city health officials said that only 30% of those with chlamydia or gonorrhea go to the city's STD clinic, which is why they "have been trying to reach out to people at street fairs, athletic tournaments and other events" (Wilson, 4/15).