UPDATE: Long Beach approves state funds for HIV, STD prevention

In combination with local funds, the state's money will be used to broaden treatments and testing.

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The Long Beach City Council approved two consent-calendar items during its Feb. 4 meeting that would help fund HIV and STD awareness and testing citywide.

The California Department of Public Health will provide annual funding in the amount of $186,501 for Hepatitis C preventative measures and $169,605 for STD prevention for a five-year period from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2024, according to the City.

The funds will be distributed via community-based organizations that were selected to work with the Long Beach Department of Public Health, according to a City staff report. Some of these groups include the LGBTQ Center and clinics within St. Mary’s Medical.

The City is planning to use the funds to implement a public-education program to raise awareness and to develop Hepatitis C and STD preventative measures.

Long Beach Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy said her department is helping the public know where they can receive testing, treatments, sexual education and other services. She added that, last year, Mayor Robert Garcia approved $250,000 of Health and Human Services Department funds to cover the costs of the outreach programs.

“We’re going to be working on a campaign utilizing some of the funds coming from the state as well as our City funds to do a much broader outreach in connection to testing and services,” Colopy said.

In a City staff report from Jan. 24, the city’s Annual STD/HIV Surveillance Report from 2018 revealed that although HIV cases have continued to decrease yearly since 2015, gonorrhea had increased by 4.8% with 1,762 cases and congenital syphilis increased by 150% with 10 cases.

Colopy said although some cases of infections have stabilized over the years, officials are seeing “skyrocketing” increases of sexually transmitted diseases nationwide.

“We’re really working hard to address both HIV and other STDs,” she said. “Moving forward, I think the key piece to recognize is that we know that the [treatments] exist.”