Sharp Rise in Cases Seen in Los Angeles County Among Gay Men
After several years in which virtually no infectious syphilis cases have been reported among men who have sex with men, the Los Angeles County Department of Health has learned of a startling rise in syphilis cases.
More than two dozen primary and secondary cases of syphilis have been reported to the Los Angeles Department of Health in recent weeks, many involving men with HIV disease. On March 31, as this issue of Positive Living was going to press, a spokesman at the Department of Health was aware of 31 syphilis cases among men who have sex with men.
According to the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, the current outbreak primarily involves individuals in Hollywood and West Hollywood. Reports of cases in Silver Lake and Long Beach are also known.
An outbreak of syphilis in our community could spread rapidly and have serious consequences, as syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases increase the spread of HIV.
Detailed information on recognizing symptoms of syphilis and treating infection is published here in this edition of Positive Living. Information on recognizing and treating other sexually transmitted diseases is also included in this article.
If You Suspect You are Infected
Getting to a clinic to be tested is critical if you suspect that you may be infected.
Testing is available at public health clinics throughout L.A. County. For comprehensive information on testing sites, call the STD Hotline at (800) 758-0880 and enter your ZIP Code. Recorded information on clinics near you will be provided. Information is available in English and in Spanish.
You can also check the Department of Health web site, http://phps.dhs.co.la.ca.us/std. For information on treatment or to report a case in the Los Angeles area, call Michael Lawrence in the Los Angeles Department of Health at (213) 744-3376 or (213) 458-5915 after 5 p.m.
Response to Emergency
When the current outbreak had become apparent, the Department of Health acted quickly to inform AIDS-service providers about the new cases and where individuals can be tested and treated for syphilis.
In response to the outbreak, on March 28 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution introduced by Zev Yaroslavsky. The resolution calls for a comprehensive media campaign to promote safe sex and promote condom use; a plan to distribute condoms in areas hardest hit by the outbreak; an assessment of commercial sex venues in contributing to spread of the disease; and development of strategies to improve reporting of communicable diseases by physicians.
For future developments on efforts to control syphilis, see upcoming editions of Positive Living.
This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.