Starting Tuesday, the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach will offer comprehensive testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections twice a week as part of a pilot project that will last through the end of the year, center officials announced.
As part of the project, the center will collaborate with St. Mary’s Medical Center to provide a mobile testing clinic and medical staff, according to a press release.
“We have been working for nearly two years on this project to provide free STI testing to our community”, said Ismael Morales, director of Health & Wellness Services at the Center. “Having provided free, rapid HIV testing since 2010 we have learned that there is a great need in Long Beach for LGBTQ affirming and inclusive sexual health services that include STI testing.”
The testing and treatment will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays and will include screenings for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis B and C.
The program is being funded by the Los Angeles County Health Department, Division of HIV and STD Programs, and proceeds collected at the 2014 Long Beach AIDS Ride and from the Center.
Since 2010, the Center’s rapid HIV testing program has conducted more than 7,000 tests, making the program “extremely successful,” officials stated.
In order to develop a program that meets the needs of the LGBTQ community, officials stated Center staff will also collect data and feedback during the pilot period.
The Center will also be remodeling its current health services space to accommodate more STI testing services, including an exam room, additional lab space and office space for new and current health services staff, the release added.
According to 2013 Community Health Assessment gathered by the city’s Department of Health and Human Services, Long Beach has higher cases of STI infections than Los Angeles County and California.
In 2011, there were 438 reported cases of gonorrhea in Long Beach.
Incidence rates of gonorrhea remain below Los Angeles County but well above California rates. Until 2009, the rates were higher than both the state and the county.
In 2010, more than 2,400 cases of chlamydia were reported in Long Beach, with those ages 15 to 29 having significantly higher incidence rates of chlamydia—even more than twice to more than five times that of other age groups.
In addition, primary and secondary cases of syphilis was on the rise since 2001, but has sharply declined since 2008. However, incidence rates in Long Beach are still above the state and the county.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013, 75 percent of the reported syphilis cases in the United States were among men who have sex with men.
Testing will take place beginning Tuesday, August 18, at the Center, 2017 East Fourth Street. Those interested can call 562.434.4455 to make an appointment, check for walk-in times or for any questions regarding testing and treatment services.