New AHF Billboards Warn, ‘Syphilis is Serious’

AHF: Congenital Syphilis Rates a ‘Tragedy’ and L.A. County Does Nothing

In Advocacy, Featured, News by AHF

By Ged Kenslea | AHF Newsroom

City News reports that, “Only six cases were reported in 2012 — a 12-year low point — while 44 were recorded in 2017, according to the Department of Public Health.”

LOS ANGELES (May 16, 2018) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which has aggressively been promoting syphilis awareness, prevention and treatment via independent public service awareness and billboard campaigns in Los Angeles for more than a decade, today harshly criticized Los Angeles County officials on the news of a dramatic spike in congenital syphilis cases in the County.

According to City News Service (via Patch North Hollywood) “Only six cases were reported in 2012 (in Los Angeles County) — a 12-year low point — while 44 were recorded in 2017, according to the Department of Public Health.” The news came as part of an alarming new report out this week by the California Department of Public Health this week showing all-time high numbers of STDs in California.

“This more than sevenfold increase in congenital syphilis cases in Los Angeles is an avoidable, heart-rending tragedy and Los Angeles County is essentially doing nothing about it,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “These numbers—and the lives of the babies and mothers they represent—indicate that an immediate and greatly stepped-up response by County Health officials is needed. Vastly increased availability of testing and treatment for syphilis is critical to break the chain of new infections. And the promotion of pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP for HIV prevention to the exclusion of everything else is a public health disaster: the rates of STDs—which PrEP offers NO protection from—are through the roof here in L.A., throughout California, and in many places across the country.”

‘Syphilis is Serious’ is an AHF public awareness and billboard campaign launched earlier this year highlighting prevention and treatment of syphilis. The billboards drive the public to the website to learn more about the disease and find locations to access free STD testing and affordable care for the treatment of syphilis, gonorrhea and Chlamydia through AHF.

The “Syphilis is Serious” billboard was a follow up to AHF’s groundbreaking “Syphilis Explosion” outdoor advertising campaign which first started running in 2014. That campaign was followed by AHF’s “Syphilis Tsunami” campaign which ran in Los Angeles in 2016 and was complemented by a digital media campaign to draw attention to the national syphilis epidemic and to put pressure on the drug company Pfizer to supply Bicillin L-A, a key syphilis medication—and the only treatment recommended for congenital syphilis patients—in quantities that meet the growing demand for treatment.

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