WeHo’s young women warned: STD’s up for you, too

stis2014700
July 7, 2014

By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California

For all the (well-deserved) talk about gay men’s health in West Hollywood, little is said or written about the city’s newest burgeoning population – young professional women – and their public health needs.

More and more young women flock to WeHo because of the relative safety from predatory straight men they enjoy here.

More and more young women flock to WeHo because of the relative safety from predatory straight men they enjoy here.

As the city matures, so too does the contingent of Russian-speaking residents, now in their 80s and 90s, and as the depart they seem to be replaced by young women.

This week the California Department of Public Health said that the rate of sexually transmitted infections significantly increased in California last year, with most cases reportedly affecting younger women.

Move over gay men – you are the ones we usually harangue.

The press release from the state shows that there were about 216,000 reported cases of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STI)s in California in 2013, up 13 to 15 percent for gonorrhea and syphilis. Specifically, the report (DPH press release, 7/1) shows:

About 168,000 cases (four times that of gonorrhea) of chlamydia, a slight decrease from 2012;

More than 38,000 cases of gonorrhea, a 13% increase from 2012;

More than 3,500 cases of primary and secondary syphilis, an 18% increase from 2012;

Nearly 2,900 cases of early latent syphilis; and

More than 3,600 cases of late latent syphilis

As if you needed to see it to know it isn't a happy-making thing, this is a photo of  gonorrhea in the throat.

As if you needed to see it to know it isn’t a happy-making thing, this is a photo of gonorrhea in the throat.

Despite the decrease in cases, chlamydia is still – at four-fifths of all new STIs – the most common STI reported in California, said the agency, with  younger women most often affected. Roughly two-thirds of chlamydia cases and 54 percent of female gonorrhea cases were reported in women ages 15 to 24.

Additionally, “profound racial disparities,” evidence themselves in the black community, with the rate of gonorrhea being over six times higher among blacks than non-Hispanic, white individuals, according to DPH.

Heidi Bauer, chief of the STI control program at DPH, said, “We consider these very significant and concerning increases in numbers of cases and rates of disease.”

She told KPCC, “The increase is seen overall, but when you look at who is most affected by these infections, it’s women more so than men, in many cases, and young people in general.”

We have mentioned a recent study by the Los Angeles LGBT Center that stated, “Men who use smart apps such as Grindr are 25 percent more likely to be affected with gonorrhea and 37 percent with chlamydia.”

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) -sponsored 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showed that, despite a decrease in usage from ten years ago, 59 percent of young people still report using condoms.

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) -sponsored 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showed that, despite a decrease in usage from ten years ago, 59 percent of young people still report using condoms.

A study just completed for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), studying the effectiveness of its social marketing efforts found that men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) reported using condoms nearly 64 percent of the time.

At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sponsored 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showed that, despite a decrease in usage from ten years ago, 59 percent of young people still report using condoms.

Despite a recent push by the CDC to encourage high-risk individuals to take a daily AIDS treatment tablet as a form of possible HIV prevention in a procedure known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), condoms remain the most popular, and proven effective barrier protection to prevent transmission of not only HIV, but syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.

“We are heartened to see that despite rumors and hearsay to the contrary, a majority of gay men report using condoms, which remain by far the most effective method of preventing HIV and STD transmission when used—and when used properly,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

stis2014700