LA County looks for novel ways, more money to fight rising STD rates
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors called on Tuesday, Sept. 28, for more resources and coordination to fight a troubling spike in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
Supervisor Hilda Solis said it was important the county not lose sight of other public health needs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our county is in the middle of an ongoing STD crisis that has seen cases here skyrocket,” Solis said. “As we’ve seen with COVID-19, the rise in STDs is heavily associated with many social determinants of health, leading to many of the same communities hit disproportionately by the pandemic bearing the brunt of this crisis as well.”
Rates of syphilis, which is a known risk factor for HIV, are more than five times higher in women and more than tripled among men from 2009-2019, according to county public health data.
The 2019 rate was 104/100,000 residents for men — or roughly one in every 1,000 men — and 11/100,000 residents for women.
Cases of congenital syphilis — passed from a mother to her child —though small on an absolute basis, have increased even more rapidly, from 10 in 2010 to 113 in 2020.
The board directed the county’s various health departments to report back with an updated plan of action, including expanded access to testing and treatment, community education campaigns, and a public STD “dashboard” to track cases.
It also asked legislative affairs staffers to advocate for additional federal and state resources to combat the trend.
“With this motion, we can make sure that the relevant agencies work together with community partners and health care organizations to coordinate a plan of action to address this crisis and put resources behind it,” Solis said.