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Chlamydia epidemic targets US gays

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  1. Pennan Barry 1 Apr 2006, 2:18am

    Your article, “Gonorrhoea hits black gay community” (Mar 30, 2006) was in error. The San Francisco Department of Public Health did send out a press release about a gonorrhea increase among young African Americans, but this increase occurred among young heterosexual African Americans. Despite these increases in gonorrhea among heterosexuals, most gonorrhea in San Francisco continues to occur among men who have sex with men and working to prevent STDs including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV in men who have sex with men remains a priority for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.The full text of the press release in question is included below.Pennan Barry, MD, MPHSTD Prevention and Control ServicesSan Francisco Department of Public HealthSan Francisco Sees Spike in Gonorrhea Rates Among Young African AmericansHealth Officials Issue Special Alert to City Medical CommunitySan Francisco, CA — March 29, 2006 — Today the San Francisco Department of Public Health, STD Prevention and Control Services alerted more than 1000 medical providers about alarming increases in gonorrhea among young heterosexual African Americans. Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that increases the risk of acquiring HIV and, in women, can cause infertility and other serious medical problems. Many persons, especially women, have mild or no symptoms. Gonorrhea is sexually transmitted and easily treatable.Reflecting an increase seen throughout the Western United States, San Francisco DPH found that compared with 2004, gonorrhea in 2005 increased by more than 100% among African Americans aged 15–19 years. Since 2003, gonorrhea among African Americans aged 20–24 increased by more than 90%. In 2005, the rate of gonorrhea among African American women was 12 times the rate among white women. Though African Americans make up about 7% of the population of San Francisco, more than 50% of gonorrhea among heterosexuals occurs among African Americans. In response to this increase, DPH has notified medical providers about this increase through a Health Advisory. This faxed Advisory reminds providers to treat patients with gonorrhea and their sex partners promptly and to re-test patients with gonorrhea 3 months after their infection. The Advisory also recommends that providers screen all sexually active African Americans under the age of 25 years for gonorrhea and chlamydia. “The Department of Public Health is concerned about this increase in gonorrhea. We want to make sure that people who are at risk for gonorrhea are tested, and that people who test positive and their partners are treated promptly,” said Pennan Barry, MD, MPH a Medical Epidemiologist with San Francisco STD Prevention and Control Services. Dr. Barry also added that, “Condoms, when used properly, are effective at lowering the risk of gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases.”In addition to this Health Advisory, DPH has been working with y