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  Syphilis Cases Continue to Increase Among MSM in LA
by GayHealth Staff

Health education and outreach including condom distribution and STD testing is urgently needed in West Hollywood, where syphilis cases continue to mount, according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

"You can't find condoms in most of West Hollywood's bars, and the county is sending out its mobile STD van only two days this month," said AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein. "You can't stop an outbreak of this kind without prevention, testing and treatment. On all those counts our public health authorities are failing."

In 2002, syphilis cases increased 62 percent in Los Angeles County among gay and bisexual men. Six in ten of the new cases are among men who are already infected with HIV, according to a December report from the public health program in LA county. "We are seeing many, many cases among our HIV patients," said Dr. Paul DenOuden, MD, of the AHF Westside Healthcare Center.

There also may be many more cases among gay and bisexual men that have yet to get diagnosed, said Weinstein. "There could be two reasons so many cases are being reported primarily among the HIV-infected: Either they are being exposed more often to syphilis, or routine syphilis screening at AIDS clinics simply catches a bigger percentage within this population when compared to men not in treatment. Men who are not HIV infected aren't regularly screened."

Updated: Wednesday, January 8th 2003

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