Published : Monday, November 12, 2018 | 12:07 PM
Since 2011, Los Angeles County has seen a 96% increase in early syphilis diagnoses, and in 2018 alone, Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley said it has diagnosed more than 50 people with the sexually transmitted infection (STI).
In order to help combat and treat these rising numbers, Planned Parenthood Pasadena rolled out a new program for syphilis treatment on Monday, November 12.
“Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley strives to create access to regular STI screenings, treatment, and preventive education,” says Sheri Bonner, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Pasadena. “The increased rate of sexually transmitted infections in the county is alarming and demonstrates that not enough people are getting the information and care they need to protect their health. Ensuring that people receive stigma-free, timely and quality health care is an essential tool to prevent STIs.”
Planned Parenthood’s role in the treatment of syphilis will include increased screenings and providing in-clinic medications such as injections and oral antibiotics. These services can be found at the Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley Health Centers in Eagle Rock, Alhambra, Pasadena, and Glendora. Those affected may also seek preliminary help from a Los Angeles County STI nurse Monday through Friday 9am-5pm at (213) 368-7441.
There are currently no Los Angeles County STI clinics in the organization’s service area, which makes Planned Parenthood’s new program all the more essential to public health. “With no LA County STI clinics in our service area, Planned Parenthood Pasadena must take the lead by providing the cure for this infection and curbing the spread of disease in our community,” says Dr. Noah Nattell, Medical Director at Planned Parenthood Pasadena. “At Planned Parenthood, we have increased our screening for this disease, offering a blood test for all patients, and have noted that our area is not immune from the rising numbers of infection. Luckily, syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.”
“Most patients we screen for STIs also get screened for syphilis, but when patients test positive we have to refer them out. We would rather be able to treat these patients ourselves,” said Tanya Parker, Director of Center Operations at Planned Parenthood Pasadena. The Pasadena Health Department is also interested in having Planned Parenthood treat patients, and they plan to refer patients to them.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection which can cause birth defects and lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or even neonatal death. As of September 2018, it is the Los Angeles Department of Public Health’s goal to eradicate congenital syphilis within five years.