PSA on STDs
The recent article by Patrick Range McDonald [“Gay Syphilis Scourge Skyrockets,” July 13–19] is a welcome review of our efforts to stem the rise, similarly seen in other major metropolitan areas, of sexually transmitted disease. However, the article contains two major inaccuracies that need immediate correction.
McDonald quotes activist Miki Jackson saying that Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health “officials never asked the gay health care community, with its decades of marketing experience, what ‘effectiveness’ looks like . . .”
This assertion is simply untrue. The county and our advertising agency, Fraser Communications, repeatedly explored the effectiveness of past and potential future campaigns through meetings with a community advisory group convened for this express purpose. The county and Fraser also conducted eight focus groups with gay men in English and Spanish, reviewed notes from more than a hundred previous syphilis cases in gay men, and examined past campaigns.
The new marketing campaign reflects what we learned. The community advisory group was kept informed with periodic ?e-mails and reviewed campaign prototypes. When the resulting campaign was developed, we presented it to community leaders for their response. In fact, no campaign the county or our agency has ever done has had more community input.
Given this extensive input, we are puzzled, to say the least, by Ms. Jackson’s statement that we “kept the entire campaign a secret.” Ms. Jackson was present at the first community advisory group meeting, and was invited to all subsequent meetings (which she chose not to attend). She was also regularly sent e-mails detailing the campaign’s progress.
Also, the subhead of your article — which reads “County officials dawdle, leisurely launching another questionable ad campaign” — unjustly demeans a careful, well-researched advertising and public health undertaking. In addition to the new marketing campaign, we have increased our public-health investigator field staff to follow cases to stop the chain of infection; have placed additional field staff at key community clinics that serve gay and bisexual men; and have enhanced testing at the men’s jail, where we have previously found high rates of syphilis. We believe that the media campaign, coupled with the county’s public-health strategy, will have a significant impact on STD testing, case-detection and prevention.
We concur with your focus on the need for leadership within the gay community to effect behavior change. We welcome collaboration with the community to do just that.
Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH
Director and Health Officer
County of Los Angeles Public Health
Regarding “Beatle . . . Mania” [July 6–12]: Did someone give Linda Immediato the wrong address? Because I doubt she attended the same show I saw. “?Smarmy,” if she bothered to look it up, isn’t a word that can be used to describe Rusty Anderson’s great guitar playing and fantastic stage presence. He was right in line with the rest of the band; they allowed the true star of the show to lead the way. People actually did give a rat’s ass about Rusty, as he added to the show’s energy. And who gives a crap that in the end she missed John more than living in the moment to enjoy a great show by Paul?
Was Linda Immediato trying to be übercool with her snarky commentary on the Paul McCartney Amoeba gig? I’ll preface this by saying, hands up, I’m a Paul fan. However, I don’t expect everyone to dig Paul and I don’t believe that he farts magic. I think I’m an objective fan. If Linda’s comments were objective in an intelligent way, I’d cut her some slack. Her “review” sucks because she missed the whole vibe of the show and wrote in a pissy, lazy way.
I’ll be honest. I waited a total of 11 hours to get into Paul’s gig at Amoeba. I went because I love the new album but mainly because I know seeing Macca in such a small, unique place for free is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sure, there were some “mentally delicate” fanatics there who camped out for three days, but I found the audience was mainly hardcore music fans.
Amoeba employees and the press actually applauded us when we finally were escorted triumphantly into the gig. (I did not feel like a herded cow.) They understood why we had waited so long, and it was a beautiful,giddy moment.
In a jaded business in a jaded town with jaded people, that revelation is a priceless gift. Shame Linda missed out on it.
We’ve got more letters at laweekly.com.
Too Many Patients, ?Not Enough Patience
I have been following with some interest the Weekly’s ongoing exposé of neglect of patients at Martin Luther King Jr.–Harbor Hospital. I work for a law office (which I would prefer not to name) that refers potential clients to medical malpractice firms. Working where I do, I hear stories from dozens of people every week who, while they may not have been injured by a doctor, often have very unpleasant experiences interacting with hospital staff. Patients are routinely not believed, they are ignored for hours, they are not promptly consulted on treatment options. It’s often the same stories about the same hospitals, and while this information is anecdotal, I still think it is quite revealing and not insubstantial.
MLK may be the worst offender, but I think they are far from being the only hospital that has the same problem . . . Hospital staff members simply do not want to deal with people a lot of the time. I am under the impression sometimes that the United States has successfully raised a generation of doctors and nurses who are highly schooled paycheck cashers; they see the big payout but forget that they actually have to look at, talk to and treat sick people all day, every day. The institutional lapses that have been documented there clearly require radical solutions, which may include closing the hospital, but, given what I have heard during the course of my job, our society should applaud those who choose to work in the medical profession, but we must stop fostering a culture that rewards professional status without first seeing more professional service.