LA County Allocates $5 Million More to Deal with Growth in Sexually Transmitted Infections

 

The Los Angeles LGBT Center for now will not have to cut back on the free services it offers for treatment of sexually transmitted infections, thanks to a decision on Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to allocate an additional $5 million for those services over the next two years.

The decision came in a vote on a proposal by 3rd District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and 2nd District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Kuehl’s district includes West Hollywood, where the LGBT Center operates a small health clinic on Santa Monica Boulevard that provides free STI tests and treatments.

Earlier this month Darrel Cummings, the Center’s chief of staff, had warned that it would have to reduce the free testing and treatment services that it provided at the Center WeHo and its McDonald/Wright facility. Cummings said the county had not agreed to provide funding for an increase in its efforts to deal with sexually transmitted diseases, which are on the rise. Cummings said that meant the Center had had to redirect $1.1 million from other programs and services.

Cummings today praised the decision as “great news for the moment.”

“We consider this a great first step and an indication that the public health department and the board of supervisors are all recognizing the seriousness of the issues faced in LA County,” Cummings said. “Much more will have to be done as this solution is only temporary and with insufficient funds to address the full scope of the STD issues county-wide. We hope and believe that the current Los Angeles LGBT Center services will be maintained as a result of this action and this is indeed great news for the moment. We will be facing the same issue by the time these funds are used July 1 of next year.”

The money, which goes to the L.A. County Department of Public Health, will be used to continue funding STI services provided by the Center and others with whom the health department contracts and to expand such services to more communities.

A memorandum presented to the supervisors with the Kuehl/Ridley-Thomas motion notes that the State of California, despite many requests, has only provided $7 million in one-time funding increases for STI control measures in Los Angeles County. Federal funding nationwide fell by $21 million (a decline of 40%) between 2003 and 2016 in a calculation that adjusts the funding for inflation over that period.

“At the moment, there is very good communication taking place between the County and service providers, including the Center, so we are hopeful that we will find solutions going forward,” Cummings said. “At the very least, we have some time now to work together towards these ends.”

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Los Angeles County have been increasing rapidly. L.A. County reported over 85,500 STI cases in 2016 including approximately 59,000 cases of chlamydia, 22,300 cases of gonorrhea, over 4,000 cases of early syphilis and 37 cases of congenital syphilis (CS). From 2015 and 2016, there was a 4% increase in chlamydia cases, a 27% increase in gonorrhea cases, and a 16% increase in early syphilis cases in LA County.

“A disproportionate number of STI cases occur among men who have sex with men (MSM), African American women, and transgender persons,” says a Health Department report. Forty percent of West Hollywood’s residents are said to be gay men.

In the last fiscal year the LGBT Center “provided testing during more than 25,000 client visits,” Cummings said in an interview earlier this month. “One result of this effort is that last year we diagnosed and treated 22% of all syphilis cases in L.A. County, thereby reducing the spread of this infection.”


2 Comments
  1. USE A CONDOM EVERY TIME. For all exchange of bodily fluids, especially when interacting with strangers. I’ve been extremely sexually active since age 18. I’m not 50. I only had a minor std in my early 20s when I stopped using condoms for a very brief period of time. Then my amazing, gay, (hot by the way) doctor took me to lunch and said: I never want you in my office again for an STD. You’re a gorgeous man and I don’t want you sick. Use a condom. Best advice he ever gave me. He’s a happily married gay man who took time to let me know what I needed to do in order to be safe. You also need to build up your immune system with an organic, healthy diet. Pasture raised animals if you eat meat. And a good therapist if you’re continually finding yourself in victimization patterns. That combination has kept me extremely healthy and happy. And I’ve made the decision to be pharma free. But that’s because I’m disciplined and I know not everyone is. So, I’m not shaming those who choose another path. But I can tell you that I’m a wise soul and grateful I got great advice at a young age from great people. Peace.

    Use your mind, role play. Sex can be very fun when you’re confident and open minded . But protect yourself, use your intuition. Be safe. I like Glyde condoms. They are vegan friendly and feel great.

    1. Thanks for publishing this. Meant to say, I’m now 50 years of age.
      Again, we all make choices and you’ll know which is the best one for you.
      I knew early on that I’d be sexually active and likely not have a partner (not that I don’t want one, it’s just that I never won in that area of life. I’m a bit challenging for I’m very opinionated on certain topics involving health and lifestyle. But I’ve had great connections with people and prefer my solitude most of the time.)

      The best the advice I can give to the younger (and older) ones is wrap it up, especially with someone you don’t know. I know sometimes circumcision can affect erections or there may be fears of losing an erection, etc. But eventually you master your mind and body and know yourself. You know what circumstances make you comfortable and you find the condom that works for you, etc. Trust your intuition. Again, no shaming those who choose another path. I can just tell you that I sleep well at night knowing that I chose the most hygienic and safe way to have sex with people I don’t know well. Respect yourself and your mate(s). Have fun.

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