AIDS Healthcare Foundation officials in Los Angeles are calling for increased sexually transmitted disease education and outreach efforts in gay neighborhoods in the city following reports that the number of syphilis cases increased 62% among gay and bisexual men in Los Angeles County in 2002, GayHealth.com reports. Among gay men contracting the sexually transmitted disease, 60% also are infected with HIV. Health officials say the true number of syphilis infections is likely much higher because many cases among gay and bisexual men have not yet been diagnosed.
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, says increased outreach is needed to bring down the numbers of new infections, particularly in areas of Los Angeles County with large gay populations, like West Hollywood. "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," he said. "You can't stop an outbreak of this kind without prevention, testing, and treatment. On all those counts our public health authorities are failing."