San Francisco health officials launch Web site to combat syphilis
Health officials in San Francisco this week launched a new Web site aimed at reducing the number of new syphilis infections in the city, which have been dramatically rising since 1999. Last year, 595 new infections were reported in San Francisco, with two-thirds of that total reported among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men. The new Web site, accessed online at www.stdtest.org, provides information about syphilis and syphilis protection, and allows those who wish to be tested for the sexually transmitted disease to print out laboratory slips with nine-digit identification numbers that can be used to get tests at city testing centers.
Results will be posted online and can be accessed with the I.D. number. Those who test positive will be contacted by the health department for mandatory counseling and follow-up using information entered before Internet users receive the I.D. number. Deb Levine of the Internet Sexuality Information Services said that because of the follow-up requirements the testing isn't strictly anonymous, but she still said the new program makes syphilis testing much easier. "It reduces any kind of embarrassment of having to discuss [syphilis] with your doctor," she said. "It reduces the time it would take to go to a public health clinic."