Most people know Los Angeles is a crowded, vibrant, eclectic and busy city but few realize just how large it is. Home of both television and movie industries, LA is the second most populated city in the country and the most populous city in the state of California. With more than 3 million residents, the Los Angeles health department maintains help, information and support for people dealing with a number of issues, including sexually transmitted diseases.
Both chlamydia and Gonorrhea are a major cause for concern throughout the Los Angeles area with men and women between the ages of 20-24 being most at risk. In 2013, women in their early 20s made up over 40% of all chlamydia cases and nearly 35% of gonorrhea cases while the majority of male cases were for men between the ages of 20 – 29. With syphilis, on the other hand, the reverse is true and men between the ages of 30 – 45 made up more than half of all cases. For women, reports of syphilis are less frequent (women reported 137 cases in 2013 while men reported 2,394) but the women affected tend to be much younger.
In 2010, The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) put together a presentation highlighting the issue of STDs in the city as well as the economic burden the issue raises. At the time they estimated the annual cost of STDs in the city to be around $820 million. At that time, the biggest STI facing the city was Chlamydia, accounted for 73% of all cases reported that year. In 2013, there were nearly 51,000 reported cases which simply shows the breadth of the disease.
The focus of many STD Clinics in Los Angeles focus on identifying diseases and helping patients find the treatment they need as quickly and effectively as possible. The city has a long history of reaching out to provide HIV testing in Los Angeles through a number of clinics and programs. This is due, in part, to the thriving adult entertainment industry located primarily down in San Fernando Valley. The adult film industry requires an HIV test in Los Angeles for all participants in a film with a shared but private database of patients and results accessible only to those within the industry and only to those the patients permits access. Concerns over HIV exposure in 2014 prompted the creation of bill AB1576 which would require performers to be tested every 14 days. Issues with the bill have delayed its acceptance and, as of 2015, the bill has been suspended.
Herpes testing in Los Angeles is another commonly offered service through many clinics and medical offices, particularly since herpes remains a national issue. Herpes can be especially hard to track and understand on a national scale since reporting of cases after Herpes testing is not always required. According to the CDC, however, it’s estimated that 1 in 6 people between the ages of 14 and 49 years old have genital herpes.
While STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, HIV and syphilis remain a serious issue for the city, there are several programs with aim to educate and treat people at the greatest risk of exposure. While young people under the age of 20 so account for a number of STD cases, it’s generally people in their early to mid-twenties at the highest risk. Men between the ages of 20 – 30 and women aged 20 – 24 make up the bulk of cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea. Women between 20 – 24 still represent the majority of female cases of syphilis while men between the ages of 30 – 44 represent the bulk for cases for men.
Sex Education within Los Angeles covers a wide range of topics, including a focus on sexual health. According to a report commissioned in 2012
- 85% of schools use a health education curriculum that dealt with 8 different standards for health education
- 97% covered 9 important pregnancy, HIV and other STD prevention issues as part of their required course
- 94% educated students on proper condom use
- 97% informed students on how to gain access to accurate and confidential health information and services related to STDs and pregnancy
Though, clearly, an effort is being made to educate students at the high school level, the great influx of people Los Angeles gets as visitors and those who relocate to break into the entertainment industry makes it difficult to reach everyone.
Los Angeles has become a mecca for artists and entrepreneurs. Its thriving entertainment, computer and marketing industries have made it a beacon of home for those hoping to make it big but it’s also made it a difficult city to manage in terms of public health. Because of public health concerns, it’s nearly impossible to get an anonymous STD test in Los Angeles since many diseases need to be reported and, in some cases, intake workers also need to verify past sexual partners have been informed.
While the city offers a number of low-cost and free STD clinics and programs that include STD testing and HIV testing, many people still prefer to go private in order to ensure they are getting truly confidential STD testing. This can be done by having a test done through a private doctor’s office, though local and state regulations will always still apply in terms of government disclosure.
As an alternative, many people now chose to obtain an STD test through a company that offers the service through the mail, ensuring confidentiality and privacy. These services require no office visit and so it reduces the chances of people being seen by friends, neighbors and colleagues. No matter what method people use in order to obtain their STD testing, it’s vital that every sexually active adult be tested regularly to ensure they are diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible to protect their health and the sexual health of the City of Angels.