New AHF Billboards Warn, ‘Syphilis is Serious’

Amid skyrocketing rates of syphilis, particularly among young people and men-who-have-sex-with-men, AHF deploys a frank and graphic image of syphilis sores in its latest STD prevention billboard campaign.

LOS ANGELES (February 9, 2018) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is launching its latest outdoor advertising campaign with new billboards warning that “Syphilis is Serious” going up around Los Angeles starting the week of February 12th.

Amid skyrocketing rates of syphilis nationwide, particularly among young people and men-who-have-sex-with-men, AHF is deploying graphic new artwork in its latest STD prevention billboard campaign: a startling, real life color image of a close-up of an individual’s bare chest covered with syphilis sores. The billboards bear the succinct headline, “Syphilis is Serious,” and directs viewers to the website, www.freeSTDcheck.org where the public can find locations to access free STD testing and affordable care for the treatment of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis through AHF.  

“AHF has been sounding the alarm on rising rates of syphilis and other STDs through our outdoor advertising campaigns for several years now, including with our ‘Syphilis Explosion’ and ‘Syphilis Tsunami’ billboards that made headlines around the world, yet we continue to see an inadequate response from the CDC and the drug companies to address this growing public health threat,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “We need to keep making the public aware of syphilis and encourage sexually active individuals to get tested for STDs regularly and be treated, if and as necessary.”

“AHF’s Public Health Division will be expanding rapid syphilis testing on our mobile units over the next two weeks in Los Angeles in an effort to make more screening accessible throughout the County,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior director of Public Health for AHF. “The 10- minute test is another effort on AHF’s part to raise the bar and expand availability of fast, free and relatively easy screening, with printed education materials required if an individual testing has had a previous exposure.” 

In April 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted an estimated 33% increase of infectious syphilis cases from 2014-2016

Other recent noteworthy statistics on syphilis include:

  • Syphilis rates in the United States: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis cases increased 17.6 percent between 2015 and 2016. from 7.4 cases per 100,000 population to 8.7 cases per 100,000 population. The rate reported in 2016 is the highest rate since 1993 .
  • Syphilis cases in the United States: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 27,814 primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis cases reported in 2016 alone, nearly four thousand more cases than the previous year (in 2015, 23,872 cases were reported) 1.
  • Syphilis rates in Los Angeles County: According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the rate of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis in Los Angeles County was 10.8 cases per 100,000 population in 2014, which was 16 percent higher than the rate in California and 96 percent higher than the rate in the United States .
  • Syphilis cases in Los Angeles County: According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 1,365 cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis were reported in Los Angeles County in 2014. Since 2010, the total number of P&S syphilis cases has risen by 74 percent 2.
  • Syphilis symptoms: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the secondary stage of syphilis is marked by “skin rashes and/or mucous membrane lesions (sores in the mouth, vagina, or anus)”. While secondary syphilis symptoms will go away without treatment, the syphilis infection will continue to progress to the next stage of infection .

Below are the markets where the “Syphilis is Serious” campaign will run. As noted, Los Angeles will start the week of February 12th; artwork in the other markets will post toward the end of the month.

California:

  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland

New York

  • Brooklyn
  • Queens

Nevada

  • Las Vegas

Ohio

  • Cleveland
  • Columbus

Florida

  • South Beach, Miami
  • Miami
  • Broward County

Texas

  • Dallas
  • Houston

In the markets outside of Los Angeles, the advertising mediums include the following: bulletins (billboards); ‘street furniture’ (transit shelters and bus benches) and Transit (station platforms, rails and buses). 

The “Syphilis is Serious” billboard campaign is a follow up to AHF’s groundbreaking “Syphilis Explosion” outdoor advertising campaign which first starting 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, in quantities that meets the growing demand for treatment.

To find locations for free STD/HIV screening, visit www.freestdcheck.org