Sunday, January 31, 2010

SF DPH: Gay STDs Declined in 2009

Officials at the Department of Public Health on Friday released two new reports pertaining to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and drops were seen for 2009 figures in certain key categories. When reading the new year-end stats, remember that they are preliminary and are likely to change, once all late reports from labs have been turned in. Still, the declines are well worth noting.

From the editorial note of the December 2009 monthly STD report, emphases mine:

In 2009, increases were noted for chlamydia in San Francisco, while reported gonorrhea and early syphilis declined compared to 2008. Overall reported chlamydia increased from 4,120 to 4,169 (1.2%) while rectal chlamydia increased in 2009 from 666 to 740 cases for an 11.1% annual increase.

Reported gonorrhea declined 9.8% from 2,008 cases in 2008 to 1,812 in 2009. Additionally, rectal gonorrhea among men declined from 465 cases to 457 – a 1.7% decline.

After a sharp increase in early syphilis seen in 2008, early syphilis declined in 2009 by 4.2%; from 547 cases to 524.

SF DPH doesn't say why there's an increase of rectal chlamydia, but the rise is probably due to increased testing.

That rise is countered by the drop in male anal gonorrhea and syphilis, key markers for gay male STDs, and these falling stats, IMHO, show healthy sexual practices among gays. Those practices include regular screenings for infections.

Also in the prelim 2009 stats are these HIV numbers from the City Clinic testing center. There was a 17% jump in HIV tests performed, from 4,446 to 5,370, but the rate of positive test results fell by 10%, from 98 in 2008 down to 89 in 2009.

If HIV stats fall at a major testing venue, even when there's a significant surge of tests administered, it's a sign of more good news for controlling and preventing HIV.

We all know that SF DPH wastes no time sounding alarms when there's even a hint of an increase in gay HIV, gonorrhea or syphilis figures, and unfortunately, never gets around to saying anything positive about falling stats. That silence is on full display right now. Health officials in Gay Mecca might one day develop a few tools of positive reinforcement for good sexual behaviors, like offering praise for sagging stats.

SF DPH last week also released the December 2009 quarterly AIDS surveillance report, and similar falling prelim stats, were reported for AIDS diagnoses and deaths.

From the new AIDS report:


555 / 348

513 / 322

495 / 323

559 / 301

477 / 305

469 / 313

430 / 288

438 / 211

392 / 172

193 / 132

The figures will, of course, evolve due to delays in reporting, but even taking into account delays, the trends here continue to slide downward.

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