Researchers funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have uncovered when HIV entered the United States and the virus’s earliest movements in this country.
Using new molecular techniques that they developed, the scientists estimate that HIV jumped to the U.S. from Haiti in 1971, arriving in New York City and spreading from there to San Francisco and other locales.
The scientists also discovered through historic and genetic research that a French-Canadian gay flight attendant posthumously blamed for spreading HIV across North America was not the epidemic’s “Patient Zero.”
The findings were published in the advance online edition of Nature on Oct. 26. [Read it here]
Public Health Urges Clinical Screening and the Use of Condoms to Protect Individuals against the Harms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28 – In response to a report recently released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) reminds the public about the importance of clinical screening and the use of condoms to protect individuals against the harms of sexually transmitted diseases, especially for those who have multiple sex partners.
In Los Angeles County, nearly 75,000 cases of STDs were reported in 2015. The reported cases included 53,069 cases of chlamydia, 16,469 cases of gonorrhea, and 4,630 cases of syphilis, including 21 cases of congenital syphilis. In Los Angeles County, the percent increase of reportable STDs in 2015 (5.1% more cases than in 2014) was not as high as California (11.6%), but the rate of disease (cases per 100,000) is higher. Given this disease burden, local efforts to prevent and treat disease remain critical.
“The large proportion of cases of sexually transmitted disease occur among individuals who are between the ages of 15 and 24,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “Also, men who have sex with men (MSMs) and young women of color are two distinct populations that bear the disproportionate burden of the current rise in STDs. Because these diseases can have serious consequences and are often missed in routine exams, it is very important for individuals who are at risk to be screened by their health care provider.” In Los Angeles County, all gay and bisexual men who are sexually active should undergo screening at least twice per year and all pregnant women should be screened early during their pregnancy. Treatment with antibiotics can be effective in preventing chronic pain, infertility, and other serious conditions later in life.
In response to the recent increases in STD rates in LA County, Public Health has increased its efforts to ensure that STD cases are quickly identified, assessed and treated, including by partnering with a diverse group of community-based organizations throughout Los Angeles County to enhance STD control efforts. STD services are widely available to the public at these clinics.
Public Health continues to support robust HIV and STD marketing efforts and condom distribution activities. Over the past 5 years, Public Health has supported a large-scale condom awareness and distribution initiative, called LA Condom (www.lacondom.com), which distributes more than 2 million free condoms annually through a network of 500 distribution sites.
Earlier this year, Public Health began a prominently featured pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) education and awareness campaign called “The Protectors” as part of its HIV prevention efforts. The campaign is complemented by a website (www.getprepla.com) containing information about PrEP and providers that offer the service.
As part of its heightened focus on STD-related disparities among persons of color in South Los Angeles, Public Health continues to support the Second Supervisorial District STD Community Advisory Coalition (CAC), a group made up of community-based service providers, school- and faith-based leaders, community advocates, and residents of South LA. Since 2014, the CAC has engaged more than 4 dozen public and community agencies and more than 100 faith-based organizations to join in the efforts to prevent STDs. Through this work, Public Health and its partners are raising awareness of STDs and improving STD control efforts in one of the most impacted areas of the County.
About Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about the Department of Public Health and the work we do, please visit PublicHealth.LACounty.gov.