The STD/HIV Program (SHP) administers statewide and regional programs designed to prevent the transmission of STDs and HIV, to ensure the availability of quality medical and social services for those diagnosed with an STD or HIV, and to track the impact of the STD and HIV epidemics in Louisiana. The Vision of the combined program is to "achieve a state of awareness that promotes sexual health, ensures universal access to care, and eliminates new STD and HIV infections." SHP's mission is to lead the effort to build a holistic, integrated and innovative system of STD and HIV prevention, care and education that eliminates health inequities. We do this by utilizing quality data and technology to inform and direct policy and programs around sexual health.
Since 2012, Louisiana has ranked number one in the nation for congenital syphilis (CS). In 2015, Louisiana’s congenital syphilis rate rose to an all-time high of 83.9 cases per 100,000 live births, which was over six times higher than the national rate of 12.6 cases per 100,000 live births. Louisiana reported fewer cases in 2016 and the majority of cases reported were from three public health regions: Baton Rouge, Monroe, and Shreveport. Primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis rates among women in Louisiana also remain high, aiding Louisiana’s consistently high rates of CS. In 2015, Louisiana’s P&S syphilis rate of 7.9 cases per 100,000 females was over five times higher than the national rate of 1.9 cases per 100,000 females. This disease burden disproportionately affects people of color in Louisiana. In 2016, 90% of mothers of reported CS cases in Louisiana were black. Likewise, 85% of females diagnosed with P&S syphilis in Louisiana in 2016 were black.
SHP received additional grant funding from the CDC for efforts to reduce congenital syphilis in Louisiana. While case numbers will not be settled until the year following the campaign, the immediate goal of SHP-CSP is to inform the public on syphilis signs, symptoms and testing, and to educate providers on how to properly diagnose and treat syphilis, especially during pregnancy.
SHP plans to create a robust statewide CS reduction campaign. Patient-facing materials will focus on syphilis and other STD awareness and testing. Since many CS cases in Louisiana come from the reinfection of women in the later trimester of their pregnancy, a large portion of the campaign will target men and partners of women who are diagnosed with syphilis. Social marketing will target men and women in the high-risk areas by age, race and interests. Billboards will also be placed strategically around areas with the highest syphilis morbidity in the targeted public health regions.
Additionally, every public health region in Louisiana has an existing STD/HIV-reduction task force composed of various community partners, healthcare providers and universities dedicated to STD/HIV awareness and reduction. SHP will capitalize on existing localized community engagement activities and provider education efforts to broaden the message of CS reduction.
SHP will also focus on provider education of both public and private healthcare providers on appropriate syphilis screening, testing and treatment practices is also integral to a successful syphilis reduction campaign.
Results will be measured at the end of the campaign--early 2020.