San Francisco Health Officials Try New Approach at Preventing STDs

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif-The city of San Francisco is known for the Golden Gate Bridge, great sour dough bread, and a prominent homosexual community, among other things. Health officials hoping a new campaign will prevent "a hot bed for sexually transmitted diseases" from becoming a signature characteristic of the city as well.

The city is fighting increasing HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea rates within the African American communities. Although black gay men are 4% of the city's population, they account for 12% of HIV cases.

DuPont Pharmaceuticals has donated a $1 million grant for the campaign. The city has also matched the funds.

The money will be used to promote the campaign and to expand the Neighborhood Health on Wheels vans. The vehicles bring STD testing equipment into neighborhoods.

A men's health center will also be opened in the Castro district in the fall.

Prevention and educational campaigns are not simple. People in the city are well aware of the causes of HIV, but they seem to not be listening. In a new advertising campaign targeting to African American men, health officials are hoping to remind people that high-risk sexual practices can be lethal. San Francisco was the first city to report an increase in new cases of HIV infection in 2000. Research has shown that safe sex campaigns from the 1980s and 1990s are not effective today.

Health officials are considering other reasons people would subject themselves to unsafe sex. They want to talk about other factors, such as self-esteem and substance abuse that hinder reasoning.

Testing for STDs will also be increased in minority neighborhoods that are struggling with syphilis, gonorrhea, clamydia. These STDs are often considered precursors to HIV.

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