Tag Archives: HIV

CSI: California Syphilis Investigators

Syphilis rates grew more than 18 percent from 2015 to 2016, and 2016 saw the highest number of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis ever.

“In the last 20 years, we have seen an increase, especially in the LBGT community,” said Johnny Cross, a syphilis expert from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “In 2000, there were under one hundred cases, and since then it’s been rising steadily. As to why? We don’t really have an answer for why.”

Programs promoting STD awareness, prevention and education have made steps in the right direction for the last few decades, but sex education can still be a very controversial topic in public schools.

“We need more education to youth,” Cross said. “We do a lot of educating at the Center, and the main focus is keeping people healthy, and a big part of that is prevention and education. I strongly advocate for education for the youth.”

Syphilis is dangerous because it can transform into more serious conditions like neurosyphilis, which can lead to blindness, severe memory loss and in some cases, death. Neurosyphilis usually takes ten years to develop, and affects around 30 percent of people with syphilis who don’t get treated in time. “There is latency for a while, and [syphilis] usually doesn’t come back,” Cross said, “but if it becomes neurosyphilis, it gets into your spine, your brain and starts doing major damage. It causes dementia, blindness and even death. Which is why it’s so important to do what we do.”

The Los Angeles LGBT Center and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation provide health care options and resources, and they also alert potential contractors of the disease through social media or phone calls.

“We can find people through Facebook,” Cross said,  “and try to match up networks, and friends, and find partners as well.”  The more efficient these centers are at flagging down potential contractors, the quicker they can stop STDs from spreading through networks of sexual partners, but the initial contact can be difficult.

“You might have people who feel it’s a sales call or a prank call,” said Disease Intervention Specialist Keyari Badon, from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “But I really try to be assertive, because if I’m calling, I want to be friendly and provide good customer service to you, but at the same time I am calling about a serious issue.”

Because of the stigma around sexually transmitted diseases and infections, sometimes people do not want to get tested. But with the emergence of this potentially deadly disease, the best thing to do is get tested if any symptoms appear.

“No one wants an STD,” Cross said, “but it comes with the territory, and really the best thing is to be tested and move on from it. The stigma attached does a lot of harm, and if we can find a way to remove that we can get more people tested.”

Moderator: Nathan Hoffman

Producers: Breanna Burnette and Star Harvey

Anchor: Shuandy Herrera

Social Media Editors: Tephanie Martinez and Jennifer Montiel

Reporters: Breanna Burnette, Max Goen, Star Harvey, Shuandy Herrera, Nathan Hoffman, Tephanie Martinez and Jennifer Montiel

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Almost forty percent of Millenials (people ages 18-29) have at least one tattoo, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study. The media-saturated culture in which they grew up may be a reason.

“Mainstream media, musicians and athletes — they were the jocks in school, and they were heavily tattooed,” said Kathouse Inc. Tattoo shop owner Cooper.

These Millennials may be trying to be part of the “cool crowd”, but tattoos still may not be completely acceptable to the rest of American society. Companies do have the right to refuse service to people because of their tattoos. For example, Disneyland’s company policy for tattoos states that visible tattoos that could be considered inappropriate are not permitted.

“As a business owner, you reserve the right to refuse service to anyone based on no reason at all, and if [a tattoo] is one of your reasons, then that’s one of your reasons,” said Juan Gomez, owner of Casa De Carlos Restaurant in Porter Ranch. The California Restaurant Association gives restaurant owners the right to implement neutral patron conduct rules, dress codes or other neutral admission policies that are equally applicable to all persons regardless of their sex, color, race, gender identity, disability or other protected characteristics.

“I’m pretty sure I’ve been [seated] in certain places at restaurants,” Cooper said. “I know I get followed [in stores], and I know I get treated differently by police officers.”

Tattoos can also have an impact on employment. Salary.com found that 76 percent of respondents said a tattoo or a piercing can hurt an applicant’s employment opportunities, although only 4 percent reported actually being discriminated against because of body art.

“My third tattoo ended up being on my hands, and we call those ‘job stoppers’,” said tattoo artist Brian, an apprentice at Kathouse Inc. “Every time I had an interview I had to cover my hands.”

Although Brian said he had some bad experiences with finding employment, Forbes Magazine reported in 2013 that some industries and some employers may be getting more relaxed with the idea of employee ink.

Many states, including California, have regulations about the process of getting and giving tattoos. California law requires that you have to be 18 or older to get a tattoo. California Department of Public Health regulations for tattoo parlors set sterilization, sanitation, and safety standards for tattooing, permenant cosmetics, and body piercings.

“We all take our blood borne pathogen [tests] to learn about cross contamination,” Cooper said. “The city comes in, we pay our fees, and [we] put [the certificate] on the wall.”

The popularity and acceptance of body art continues to grow.

“I don’t see it as a trend,” Cooper said. “I see it as something we just tapped into, and I think it’s going to keep on going.”


Moderator: Ashton Smith

Anchor: Nick Popham

Producers: Mirna Duron and Nick Popham

Reporters: Anna Akopyan, Mirna Duron, Nick Popham, Ericka Sims and Ashton Smith

Social Media: Anna Akopyan and Ericka Sims

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No Glove No Love

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