Los Angeles County once had 36 clinics testing and treating sexually transmitted infections. That was in 1996; today, thanks to budget cuts, there are only twelve. Meanwhile, the county currently ranks first in the nation for numbers of chlamydia cases and second for gonorrhea, and the worst hit are young African-American women. Now, the county's experimenting with mobile, Internet-enabled kiosks with discreet mail-in kits — and unusually, it's got churches on its side.
There were over 45,400 chlamydia cases and 10,400 gonorrhea cases reported last year alone, and the rates are far higher for black women aged 15-24, the department says. The new experimental campaign, called "I Know," is relatively modest — $2.5 million for three touch-screen kiosks and a health van — but according to the AP, is being watched by other officials nationwide.
You don't have to give your full or real name for a kit, just contact information. And the county supervisor involved is saying all the right things (that's him in the picture above):
"Shame is not a cure for any communicable disease-it's not the cure for tuberculosis and it is not the cure for any sexually transmitted disease, either," said county supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who spearheaded the campaign for his constituents.
There appear to be similarly enlightened principles at work with the churches that are collaborating with the effort and holding workshops that the AP describes as intended to "learn how to have constructive conversations about sexual health with young people and engage struggling young women in moral but candid conversations about love, relationships, sex, molestation and developing the self-esteem to care for their individual sexual health."
Denise Hunter, president of an AME church with a congregation of 19,000 called it "absolutely the Christian thing to do...We recognize in the interfaith community that abstinence is ideal-but we have to take it from ideal to reality."
Image via Flickr.