Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Campaign in Los Angeles County Targets Black, Hispanic Women, Other Groups
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is launching a $1.3 million public health campaign that seeks to encourage men who have sex with men, as well as black and Hispanic women, 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-seven percent of the 30,000 women with chlamydia and 65% of the 5,000 women with gonorrhea were blacks or Hispanics, officials said. Syphilis rates for MSM increased by 365% between 2001 and 2005 in the county. The campaign will use "unconventional approaches" to reach the groups, such as information on drink coasters, murals and sidewalk chalk art. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county health department, said the effort is intended to reach "people who are not going to be watching mainstream television or reading the newspapers." The campaign also will include traditional ads. Posters for chlamydia include young black and Hispanic women with the message: "I know that hooking up can have a downside. That over 30,000 women in L.A. get chlamydia every year. That chlamydia is curable."
About half of the funding will go toward advertising, and the remaining funds will go toward hiring additional staff to handle the expected increased in people being tested and to track down sexual partners, which is required by law.
The campaign replaces a previous effort called, "Stop the Sores," that ran between 2002 and 2005 and featured a cartoon character syphilis sore named 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 taken action earlier. He added, "We have to set up a system in which every sexually active person gets screened at least every six months, the same as having our teeth cleaned" (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 6/26).