The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services released its 2018 Annual STD/HIV Surveillance Report, the most recent analysis of annual data available. The report shows that in Long Beach new Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections have continued to decline year-over-year and have seen a decrease of 28% since 2015. The report also notes that after substantial increases in all STDs over the past five years, rates have generally stabilized or decreased. Mayor Robert Garcia identified funds in the FY2020 budget to address the overall high rates of STDs and to continue to decrease rates of HIV in Long Beach.
“Reducing new HIV infections is critical to public health,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We are making great progress but there is still a lot of work ahead to ensure that all STDs are treated and that preventative measures are in place,”
The recently released report showed a 7.6% reduction from the previous year in the rate of new Chlamydia cases and 10.3% reduction in new HIV infections, new rates of Syphilis were stable after experiencing a 118% increase while Gonorrhea rates increased by only 4.8% after experiencing a 270% increase from 2013-2017. Increasing rates of Congenital Syphilis continue to be a concern in the City and nationally. High rates of STDs in Long Beach have mirrored a larger nationwide issue, with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reached an all-time high in the United States in 2018. Most STD diagnoses in Long Beach were concentrated among people ages 15-34 years and most new HIV diagnoses are among men who have sex with men.
While antibiotics can cure syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, if left untreated, STDs can be transmitted to others and produce adverse health outcomes such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy and increased risk of HIV.
“While the 2018 STD/HIV Surveillance Report data show a stabilization in STD rates, these rates continue to be high after significant increases in the past 5 years. The report highlights the continued need to proactively offer testing and treatment for STDs in order to keep people and their babies healthy,” said Long Beach City Health Officer Anissa Davis. “Preventive medications, testing and treatment are available for HIV. We have the science to end new HIV infections in our city. We are working together with our partners to develop the education, access and other supports to make this possible.”
Congenital Syphilis (syphilis passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy) is a key concern in Long Beach and across the state. The rate doubled in Long Beach from 2017 to 2018. It can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death and severe lifelong physical and neurological problems. The state of California has seen an increase of over 750 percent of congenital syphilis cases from 2012 to 2017. The City is also seeing a rise in syphilis for women overall. Women infected with syphilis in Long Beach have increased by 46% (2017-2018) and that continues to rise. Early prenatal care and STD testing are essential for each pregnancy to safeguard mothers and their babies from syphilis.
In response to these alarming trends, the Long Beach Comprehensive HIV Planning Group and the Health Department developed and launched the Long Beach HIV/STD Strategy 2019-2022 which outlined key goals and strategies to reduce new STD and HIV infections. These goals include: reducing HIV and STD Infections; strengthening capacity to address HIV and STDs; educating communities on HIV/STD prevention, testing and treatment; increasing access and engagement in care for HIV and STD treatment; and expanding PrEP and PEP access and engagement. The Comprehensive Planning Group and the Health Department will be focusing on:
- Offering no and low-cost STD, HIV and PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) services across the city, including mobile testing units and expanding hours
- Developing a communications plan that educates communities about the importance of prevention, testing, and treatment
- Delivering consistent and routine messaging that an undetectable viral load means that HIV is untransmittable to all patients living with HIV utilizing medical providers and support systems
- Training medical providers on STD and HIV standards of care and reporting requirements
The Health Department has implemented an STD hotline and online resource to answer questions for community members and medical providers (562-570-4321), provides STD and HIV testing on its mobile van, and has educated over 1,000 high school students across the City about sexual health.
To view the Annual Report, visit http://bit.ly/STDReport.
The HIV/STD Strategy 2019-2022 can be found at http://bit.ly/HIV_STD_Strategy.
About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 470,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 171 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.
About Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services
The mission of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is to improve quality of life by promoting a safe and healthy community in which to live, work and play. Long Beach Health is one of only three city-run health departments in California, which allows for better engagement with residents, neighborhoods, businesses and community partners, and fosters a greater understanding of the City’s strengths. For more information, visit us at www.longbeach.gov/health, “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.