Californians Six Times More Likely To Have STD Than Rest Of US

Californians are six times more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) than average Americans, according to medical data.

 Californians are six times more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) than average Americans, according to medical data, while public health officials warn the state is struggling to contain an “unprecedented and shameful public health disaster” that is threatening to spill over into the rest of the country.

 Officials say the state is battling a “perfect storm” of factors that have allowed STDs to incubate and spread at epidemic levels. California Gov. Jerry Brown’s “disastrous” and “dangerous” sex education classes at schools, combined with poor quality policies regarding the state’s problems with poverty, substance abuse, mental health issues and homelessness, have all played a role.

California reached a record high in the number of sexually transmitted disease cases last year, with the state seeing an unprecedented 45 percent spike in the number of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases over the past five years.

According to the state report, officials are most concerned about the huge increase in the number of stillbirths due to congenital syphilis.

Fox reports: The data, which was compiled by the California Department of Public Health, revealed chlamydia and gonorrhea to be most rampant among people under 30, with rates of chlamydia highest among young women. Men accounted for the majority of syphilis and gonorrhea cases.

If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can result in infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain, while syphilis can cause blindness, hearing loss and neurologic issues. With more than 300,000 cases of all three diseases reported in the state in 2017, researchers counted 30 stillbirths resulting from congenital syphilis.

“For California to have a steady increase in congenital syphilis is shameful,” Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, told the Associated Press. “We’ve known how to control syphilis since early 1900s. Seeing it come back like this is a sign of failure of the public health safety net.”

Officials were quick to point to a lack of public sex education and health programs in the community.

“While there are advocates and champions for cancer, nobody is out there saying, ‘I have gonorrhea and these are the best ways to treat it,’” Klausner told the Associated Press. “There’s no one out there being a champion for these conditions.”

The health department’s chief of the division of communicable disease control also placed blame on social media.

“It makes it easier for people to meet people they don’t already know to have sex,” Dr. James Watt told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The internet allows for broadening of sexual networks, and the broader that gets the more opportunity you have for sexually transmitted diseases to spread.”

The health department is now planning a greater public effort to spread awareness about the dangers of STDs and how to protect against them, but the head of the state’s STD Control Branch said budget issues have played a role in the uptick of cases.

Dr. Heidi Bauer estimated that about $20 million in state and federal money is allocated annually to fighting STDs. With a state population of nearly 40 million, Bauer said it isn’t enough, especially in areas struggling with poverty, substance abuse, mental health issues and homelessness.

The state’s homeless population of more than 130,000 people accounts for about 25 percent of the nationwide total, with clean up efforts associated with the communities topping $10 million in 2016-17. Maintenance crews have been tasked with cleaning up feces, urine, needles and other dangerous materials as the cities grapple with how to handle the surge of homelessness.

In April, the health department reported a slowdown in the number of reported hepatitis A cases that was plaguing the homeless community since a 2016 outbreak began in San Diego County. It had spread to Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and Monterey counties, killing 21 people.

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LIGHTER SIDE

 

Political Cartoons by Tom Stiglich

ALERT ALERT

 Judge Orders Mueller To Prove  Russia Meddled In Election 

Judge Dabney L. Friedrich

A Washington federal judge on Thursday ordered special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to clarify election meddling claims lodged against a Russian company operated by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Bloomberg.

Concord Management and Consulting, LLC. – one of three businesses indicted by Mueller in February along with 13 individuals for election meddling, surprised the special counsel in April when they actually showed up in court to fight the charges. Mueller’s team tried to delay Concord from entering the case, arguing that thee Russian company not been properly served, however Judge Dabney Friedrich denied the request – effectively telling prosecutors ‘well, they’re here.’

Concord was accused in the indictment of supporting the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian ‘troll farm’ accused of trying to influence the 2016 US election.

On Thursday, Judge Freidrich asked Mueller’s prosecutors if she should assume they aren’t accusing Concord of violating US laws applicable to election expenditures and failure to register as a foreign agent.

Concord has asked Dabney to throw out the charges – claiming that Mueller’s office fabricated a crime, and that there is no law against interfering in elections.

According to the judge’s request for clarification, the Justice Department has argued that it doesn’t have to show that Concord had a legal duty to report its expenditures to the Federal Election Commission. Rather, the allegation is that the company knowingly engaged in deceptive acts that precluded the FEC, or the Justice Department, from ascertaining whether they had broken the law. -Bloomberg

On Monday, Friedrich raised questions over whether the special counsel’s office could prove a key element of their case – saying that it was “hard to see” how allegations of Russian influence were intended to interfere with US government operations vs. simply “confusing voters,” reports law.com.

During a 90-minute hearing, Friedrich questioned prosecutor Jonathan Kravis about how the government would be able to show the Russian defendants were aware of the Justice Department and FEC’s functions and then deliberately sought to skirt them.

“You still have to show knowledge of the agencies and what they do. How do you do that?” Friedrich asked.

Kravis, a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, argued that the government needed only to show that Concord Management and the other defendants were generally aware that the U.S. government “regulates and monitors” foreign participation in American politics. That awareness, Kravis said, could be inferred from the Russians’ alleged creation of fake social media accounts that appeared to be run by U.S. citizens and “computer infrastructure” intended to mask the Russian origin of the influence operation.

“That is deception that is directed at a higher level,” Kravis said. Kravis appeared in court with Michael Dreeben, a top Justice Department appellate lawyer on detail to the special counsel’s office. -law.com

Concord pleaded not guilty in May. Their attorney, Eric Dubelier – a partner at Reed Smith, has described the election meddling charges as “make believe,” arguing on Monday that Mueller’s indictment against Concord “doesn’t charge a crime.”

“There is no statute of interfering with an election. There just isn’t,” said Dubelier, who added that Mueller’s office alleged a “made-up crime to fit the facts they have.”

Dubelier added that the case against Concord Management is the first in US history “where anyone has ever been charged with defrauding the Justice Department” through their failure to register under FARA.

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