Local and Community News
California: Circuit Party Becomes Catalyst for Syphilis Prevention Efforts
April 10, 2003
Gay men from across the country will converge on Palm Springs April 17-21 for the annual White Party, a premier destination on the gay party circuit. That has California health officials worried that an outbreak of syphilis among men who have sex with men could escalate. In 2002, 54 early cases were diagnosed among residents of the area, compared to seven in 2001, three in 2000, and none in 1999.
Male Palm Springs residents who tested positive have reported sexual partners from Washington, D.C., Washington state, Nevada, Chicago, Arizona, New York City, Canada, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Germany. Palm Spring's syphilis rate -- 75.5 cases per 100,000 people -- is one of the highest in the nation.
To educate men attending the party about the recent outbreaks, health officials will be out in force discussing the potential health risk and handing out safe sex packets. The message for anyone engaging in sex over the weekend will be "get tested, get tested, get tested," said Dan Wohlfeiler, a spokesperson for California's STD control branch.
"As in previous years, we are working in tandem with the Desert AIDS Project and the Riverside County Department of Health Services," said party producer Jeffrey Sanker, "to not only distribute written information promoting safe sex practices to all White Party attendees, but also to provide condoms free of charge to attendees as well as information about STD testing ..."
DAP will have 10,000 safe sex kits to hand out to all party patrons through gift bags at the Palm Springs Street Fair that weekend, at all circuit party events and host hotels. The kits include condoms, lubricants and wallet-sized information cards for quick reference. In addition, Sanker and event sponsor Wet Lubricant will be paying for and providing an additional 10,000 kits.
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
04.03.03; 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.