Oakland Awaits ‘Gonorrhea Alert’ Billboards

Public health groups are on alert for drug-resistant strains of "super gonorrhea" as overall rates of STDs in California rise.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation is putting up this billboard in cities like Oakland to ring the alarm on drug-resistant gonorrhea strains.

Reminders to practice safe sex are particularly valuable amid the abstinence-only education policy making a comeback under the Trump administration and a nationwide campaign is wasting no time.

That campaign by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is called ‘Gonorrhea Alert’ and it’s putting up a billboard in Oakland this month.

The message behind the giggle-inducing, science fiction-looking billboard, which advertises the website freestdcheck.org, is no joke. California is seeing higher numbers of STDs, like more than 75,000 cases of gonorrhea in 2017 — a 16 percent jump from the previous year. And 33 percent of those cases are with people younger than 25 years old, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Syphilis is also up 20 percent from the previous year to more than 13,000 cases, the state’s highest since 1987. Chlamydia was up nine percent in 2017, especially among females.

The nearly half a million nationwide cases of gonorrhea in 2016 is even more urgent. At least 3.6 percent of people with the disease are facing resistance to its antibiotics, dubbing the strain “super gonorrhea.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the inability to treat it an “urgent public health threat.”

Earlier this year, AHF put up a series of billboards warning that “Syphilis is Serious” with the same link to get free testing. So whether or not you find the billboards with microscopic images posted in Oakland, Los Angeles, and all the way out to Florida, save yourself and future sexual partners a potentially untreatable case of gonorrhea by getting tested.

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