Local and Community News
San Francisco Promotes HIV/STD Testing Among Gay Men
April 15, 2002
San Francisco health officials and city agencies are asking gay and bisexual men to get tested for STDs as part of a new program called Castroguys' Spring Cleaning. The program consists of an outreach campaign to promote the availability of STD and HIV tests through the health department's mobile unit and at the City Clinic. By offering free coffee, book discounts, and even free passes to sex clubs, officials hope to encourage as many men as possible to get tested.
Last year, following years of decline, health officials saw an increase in the rates of syphilis among gay and bisexual men, with 153 men who have sex with men (MSM) contracting early syphilis. Some estimate the number could reach 250 cases this year. Already the city has recorded 67 cases of early syphilis during January and February, with MSM accounting for most of those cases. In 2001, the city only registered 18 cases during the same time period.
The new spring cleaning campaign actually came out of a meeting with sex club owners earlier this year. Larry Hanbrook, a community health specialist with the city, commended the sex clubs for offering free passes as an incentive because this targets some of the most at-risk men. "A good proportion of our recent syphilis cases have mentioned they go to the sex clubs to find partners," said Hanbrook. "It is a unique and interesting collaboration. They realize it is to their benefit as well to have healthy clientele," said Hanbrook. In the end, health officials hope the spring cleaning program promotes the idea that STD testing should be a routine part of gay and bisexual men's health care regimens, "sort of like going to the dentist twice a year," Hanbrook said.
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
04.04.02; Matthew S. Bajko
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.