Sexually Transmitted Infection Campaign Targets Black, Hispanic Women, Other Groups

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Sexually Transmitted Infection

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Healthis launching a $1.3 million public health campaign that seeks toencourage men who have sex with men, as well as black and Hispanicwomen, to be tested for sexually transmitted infections, the Los Angeles Times reports. The groups have been the most affected by the rise in STI rates, according to the Times.


Sixty-sevenpercent of the 30,000 women with chlamydia and 65% of the 5,000 womenwith gonorrhea were blacks or Hispanics, officials said. Syphilis ratesfor MSM increased by 365% between 2001 and 2005 in the county. Thecampaign will use "unconventional approaches" to reach the groups, suchas information on drink coasters, murals and sidewalk chalk art.Jonathan Fielding, director of the county health department, said theeffort is intended to reach "people who are not going to be watchingmainstream television or reading the newspapers." The campaign alsowill include traditional ads. Posters for chlamydia include young blackand Hispanic women with the message: "I know that hooking up can have adownside. That over 30,000 women in L.A. get chlamydia every year. Thatchlamydia is curable."

About half of the funding will gotoward advertising, and the remaining funds will go toward hiringadditional staff to handle the expected increased in people beingtested and to track down sexual partners, which is required by law.

Thecampaign replaces a previous effort called, "Stop the Sores," that ranbetween 2002 and 2005 and featured a cartoon character syphilis sorenamed Phil. Some health care experts said the campaign was ineffective,the Times reports.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation,praised the new campaign but also said the county should have takenaction earlier. He added, "We have to set up a system in which everysexually active person gets screened at least every six months, thesame as having our teeth cleaned" (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 6/26).

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