South L.A.'s Rampant Chlamydia Problem to Be Tackled by... Local Church Ladies? | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Health & Nutrition

South L.A.'s Rampant Chlamydia Problem to Be Tackled by... Local Church Ladies?

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Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge South L.A. gets tested.
  • South L.A. gets tested.
Another "don't ask, don't tell" policy is being trampled today in the Southland: The backward, Palin-vetted, abstinence-only approach to sex-ed that's long plagued popular Christian culture.

About 18 churches throughout L.A. County Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas' STD-ridden second district, including Compton and Hawthorne, have expressed interest in hosting his "high-tech outreach effort to tackle sexually transmitted diseases" ...

... in which residents can order home testing kits from tablets and touch-screen kiosks. (They're also available here.)

If only all America's god-fearers could achieve this kind of enlightenment:

Salya Mohamedy, who works on the supervisor's health team at his Inglewood field office, tells us that Ridley-Thomas pitched the home-testing idea to seven or eight of his district's biggest churches at a "ministers' breakfast" on September 1.

click to enlarge Denise Hunter, pictured with her husband, Rev. Hunter, is heading the L.A. crusade against STDs. - FAMECHURCH.ORG
  • famechurch.org
  • Denise Hunter, pictured with her husband, Rev. Hunter, is heading the L.A. crusade against STDs.
But it was the "first ladies," or ministers' wives -- and the First African Methodist Episcopal Church's Denise Hunter in particular -- who really took the reins, after coming away "incredibly touched by the presentation."

The Los Angeles Times reports that the first ladies will help out by "raising awareness about the diseases among their congregations." This will include discussing them on Sunday "during youth organization," says Mohamedy.

Indeed, the numbers are harsh. Los Angeles County already has more chlamydia cases than any other county in the U.S. (and the second most gonorrhea cases), so the fact that Ridley-Thomas' district has more chlamydia cases than any other district in the county is somewhat of a local crisis.

From the supervisor's STD press release:

More than 30,000 women and girls acquire infections every year, with younger women most heavily affected. In 2010, there were 20,337 chlamydia cases and 2,136 gonorrhea cases reported in females ages 15-24.

Why are so many more females affected than males? Aside from a key disadvantage --chlamydia's symptoms are asymptomatic in the former -- that's a touchy subject.

"We're dealing with a network -- they're reinfecting or infecting each other within that area," says Mohamedy. In other words, each guy is doing multiple girls.

That's why, on top of providing easier access to testing kits, the church will be brainstorming ways to empower its female youth. "It's about self-esteem -- it's about realizing that you're worth a lot more than that to this community," says Mohamedy.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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