Sexually Transmitted Diseases on the rise in South L.A., Inglewood and Compton
STDs, also known as sexually transmitted diseases, are gaining ground in L.A. County with rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis increasing for the third straight year in a row.
Even more alarming, residents of South L.A., Inglewood and Compton account for approximately one-third of all gonorrhea and chlamydia cases in county, according to 2015 data compiled by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The data also revealed that African American and Latino youth and young adults, ages 12-24, are the most vulnerable populations and those at elevated risk include youth out of school, homeless youth, LGBTQ youth, transitional age youth, youth on probation and those who are trafficked.
In addition, the effects of STDs can lead to infertility, chronic pain and lower quality of life from undiagnosed and untreated STDs, ectopic pregnancy or potential spread to newborns, and an elevated risk for HIV.
The Community Advisory Coalition (CAC) recognized the impact of the growing crisis as far back as 2012 and launched the WeCanStopSTDsLA movement to unite service providers, advocates, faith leaders and residents in combatting the high rates of STDs in their communities.
The overarching goal continues today, which is to work to improve the health and wellbeing of the entire community through prevention, treatment, justice, compassion and open communication.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Division of HIV and STD Programs (DHSP) have backed the effort since its inception.
However, in light of the still-rising numbers, WeCanStopSTDsLA released an updated Pocket Guide to Sexual Health Services and Clinics in South L.A. on Sept. 20. The guide, which features an online version as well, contains information directed at young people such as a listing of youth-appropriate clinics in South L.A., an explanation of youth rights, and hotlines and websites on sexual health.
During a briefing at Manual Arts High School, a number of advocates were on hand to lend support WeCanStopSTDsLA’s efforts to create more open communication about STDs. The speakers included Valerie Coachman-Moore, Coachman Moore & Associates, Inc., who served as emcee; Mario Pérez, director of the county’s Division of HIV and STD Programs; Maryjane Puffer, executive director of L.A. Trust for Children’s Health; Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center; Kenneth Presley, Safe Passage; Justin Moore, Community Build; Wendy Ayuso, a parent; Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of Public Health; and Bishop Gwendolyn Phillips-Coates representing the faith community.
Stressing the importance of preventing STDs, Phillips-Coates said, “Let’s take our heads out of the sand. Let’s save our young people by giving them the information that they need. Let them know that love is good, but we also can live after love.”
Presley, who attended Manual Arts in the 1980s, observed that teens face “the pressure of sex everywhere” on social media, television and movies. “You never see anything about protected sex. Hopefully now, with this program, they’ll start showing condoms.”
“Youth and young adults living healthy lifestyles in a thriving and supportive community is our aim. It is not just one virus or bacteria that’s the problem, it’s the whole person,” said Coachman-Moore.
“The problem is how do we address how to work together, how do we communicate, how do we leverage. Let’s begin by talking about it.”
To learn more, visit WeCanStopSTDsLA.org.