To Help Everyone Clinic in Lennox

For more than three decades, T.H.E. (To Help Everyone) Clinic has been improving the well-being of in need, underserved communities in Los Angeles by providing access to high-quality healthcare and preventive education for all, regardless of ability to pay, while being mindful of the diverse cultural, social and economic factors that make up the foundation of the community. More than 10,000 patients strong, we accomplish this with a talented medical team, and by developing personal relationships with our patients, offering a comprehensive array of healthcare services, and encouraging and educating the community to take a proactive role in developing healthier lifestyles for themselves, their families and for future generations to come.

Founded on February 5, 1974 by eight medical volunteers – Vi Verreux, Joan Alpert, Barbara Saunders, Susan Schlager, Debbi Kates, Fredda Draluck, Marilyn Stone, and Marilyn Norwood – who sought to bring affordable, quality healthcare to uninsured women in the underserved, economically-challenged area of Southwest Los Angeles.

For more information on T.H.E Clinic, please visit www.theclinicinc.org.

 

Net meets street to defeat STDs: County home STD testing program employs cutting-edge technology

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas launched a high-tech outreach effort to tackle sexually transmitted diseases in the Second Supervisorial District, where STD levels are the highest in the County. Before the crowd of more than 50 health care advocates, ministers and first ladies, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas led the press conference in front of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Public Health in Willowbrook to announce cutting-edge enhancements to the sexually transmitted disease home testing “I know” program.
The statistics painted a stark picture: STD levels in the Second Supervisorial District are the highest in the County, with hot spots centered in South Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County has the highest number of chlamydia cases and the second-highest number of gonorrhea cases of any county in the nation. 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.  With the goal of overcoming barriers to diagnosis and treatment, the County launched its award-winning “I Know” home test kit program in 2009, Monday, at the new Martin Luther King Jr. Public Health Center, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and the Department of Public Health are rolling out cutting-edge enhancements to the program: New digital tablets and touch-screen kiosks now make home testing kits more widely and immediately available to women. Women who use the kiosks or digital tablets to order a kit will be able to receive their kit on the spot, without waiting for it to arrive by mail. All “I Know” materials and the website are available in both English and Spanish, and there is no cost to use the home testing program.  Kiosks will be placed at selected venues in the Second District; digital tablets will be put in the hands of trained outreach workers at a wide variety of locations. Both kiosks and tablets will enable secure access to the program’s website to record kit orders, so that women can later obtain their results from the program website, or by calling a toll-free number. Women throughout the County will continue to be able to order kits from the www.DontThinkKnow.org website, or by calling the County STD Program’s toll-free hotline number, 1-800-758-0880, to have test kits sent to them by mail.

“Unfortunately, these infectious diseases are at unacceptable levels and are increasing, particularly among young African-American women,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Shame is not a cure. These are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters who are suffering from the health consequences of these STDs, and we cannot let them go untreated. Families depend upon them, communities depend upon them, but you can’t treat what you don’t know exists.”

“The “I Know” program has a track record of success,” the Supervisor continued, “so we come together today to encourage women who may be afraid — who likely have no symptoms, but who have made some choices that put them at risk — to take that first step toward getting help and taking a test right in the privacy of their own homes.”  LA County Health Officer Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding concurred: “Easy diagnostic testing and effective single-dose treatments mean that there is no reason for anyone now to suffer infertility, tubal pregnancy, complications for newborns, or other serious long-term consequences of these unnecessarily common STDs.” With most cases being asymptomatic, regular screening by sexually active individuals is the only effective way to stop the spread of the these infections, said Dr. Fielding. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable, but treatment does not prevent subsequent infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that sexually active women age 25 and younger be screened for chlamydia once per year.  The “I Know” home testing program has been a true success. In its first year the website received 30,878 total visits and 2,927 kits were ordered. A total of 1,543 testable swabs were returned, of which 131 (8.5%) were positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea.

“This program has been incredibly successful in promoting testing and finding STD cases,” said the Dr. Peter Kerndt, STD Program Director at the department, noting that few clinics can show a comparable rate of case detection, and that none can perform testing for such a broad cross-section of at-risk women. In addition, according to Dr. Kerndt, not all women can or will access a clinic, due to lack of transportation, privacy fears, or the lack of symptoms typical of these STDs. The launch of the new program coincides with the imminent opening of the new Martin Luther King, Jr Center for Public Health, at the corner of Wilmington and 120th Street, a County public health facility that went from ground-breaking to completion in less than one year.  According to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the expanded “I Know” program epitomizes the potential of public health, and dovetails with the mission of the new health center, in the 21st century.

“You can see that we have a community engagement room in this new health center, which opens large bay doors directly to the outside for large-scale events,” he said. “Like those bay doors, this health center will open the potential for public health far beyond its own walls: the “I Know” program will now be everywhere that we can put a kiosk, everywhere any partnering community agency can send an outreach worker with a tablet, and anywhere a woman has access to a computer or any phone. But for those who need treatment or follow-up exams, this new health center has its doors wide open.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted that the expansion of “I Know” is also linked to a comprehensive strategy, further extending linkages from clinics to the surrounding community. Other elements of the comprehensive strategy include an increase in community-based public health workers to follow-up on cases and ensure treatment of women and their partners, school education programs, clinic referral guides for high school and middle school students, a County authorized use of a mobile van for outreach and distribution of condoms and partnerships with community-based agencies, as well as faith-based organizations. These partnerships will put tablets in the hands of trained community outreach workers to deliver home test kits in the communities most impacted by these infections. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas emphasized that public health is a critical investment that local government must make, because there is no other entity to do so.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas also hosted a breakfast on September 1, 2011 for some of the leaders from the ecumenical community to enlist their support for his initiative. The poignant discussions has resulted in the First Ladies of the Faith-based community taking a stand on this issue and offering a well-thought out plan to work with the Second District and the Department of Public Health to empower young women to take charge of their overall health and well-being.  Previous evaluation of “I Know” conducted by the County’s STD Program showed that women ages 18-25 (all eligible for the home testing program) who had seen “I Know” marketing materials were more than 1.5 times more likely to have been tested for Chlamydia and gonorrhea in the past six months. The program also received an achievement award in 2010 from the National Association of Counties.

In 2010, there were 44,648 total reported cases of chlamydia and 9,501 total cases of gonorrhea among L.A. County residents. Among diseases with mandated reporting requirements, chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most commonly reported infectious diseases in the United States.

In closing the Supervisor notified onlookers that the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Public Health is the first facility in Los Angeles County to use a mobile STD testing van, touch screen kiosks, and digital tablets in the campaign against sexually transmitted diseases. “You are witnessing history, right here, right now, and you are a part of it,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

About eight kiosks will be placed around South Los Angeles. Test-takers are able to get their test results online or by calling 1-800-758-0880.


Press Release (PDF)
Gonorrhea Cases (PDF)
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea (PDF)
I Know Posters (PDF)
Fact Sheet – Spanish (MS Word)
Fact Sheet – English (MS Word)

IN THE NEWS

September 21, 2011

September 20, 2011

September 19, 2011


Net meets street to defeat STDs: County home STD testing program employs cutting-edge technology

On Monday, September 19, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas launched a high-tech outreach effort to tackle sexually transmitted diseases in the Second Supervisorial District, where STD levels are the highest in the County.

The statistics painted a stark picture: STD levels in the Second Supervisorial District are the highest in the County, with hot spots centered in South Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County has the highest number of chlamydia cases and the second-highest number of gonorrhea cases of any county in the nation. 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.  With the goal of overcoming barriers to diagnosis and treatment, the County launched its award-winning “I Know” home test kit program in 2009, Monday, at the new Martin Luther King Jr. Public Health Center, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and the Department of Public Health are rolling out cutting-edge enhancements to the program: New digital tablets and touch-screen kiosks now make home testing kits more widely and immediately available to women. Women who use the kiosks or digital tablets to order a kit will be able to receive their kit on the spot, without waiting for it to arrive by mail. All “I Know” materials and the website are available in both English and Spanish, and there is no cost to use the home testing program.  Kiosks will be placed at selected venues in the Second District; digital tablets will be put in the hands of trained outreach workers at a wide variety of locations. Both kiosks and tablets will enable secure access to the program’s website to record kit orders, so that women can later obtain their results from the program website, or by calling a toll-free number. Women throughout the County will continue to be able to order kits from the www.DontThinkKnow.org website, or by calling the County STD Program’s toll-free hotline number, 1-800-758-0880, to have test kits sent to them by mail.

“Unfortunately, these infectious diseases are at unacceptable levels and are increasing, particularly among young African-American women,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “These are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters who are suffering from the health consequences of these STDs, and we cannot let them go untreated. Families depend upon them, communities depend upon them, but you can’t treat what you don’t know exists.

“The “I Know” program has a track record of success,” the Supervisor continued, “so we come together today to encourage women who may be afraid — who likely have no symptoms, but who have made some choices that put them at risk — to take that first step toward getting help and taking a test right in the privacy of their own homes.”  LA County Health Officer Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding concurred: “Easy diagnostic testing and effective single-dose treatments mean that there is no reason for anyone now to suffer infertility, tubal pregnancy, complications for newborns, or other serious long-term consequences of these unnecessarily common STDs.” With most cases being asymptomatic, regular screening by sexually active individuals is the only effective way to stop the spread of the these infections, said Dr. Fielding. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable, but treatment does not prevent subsequent infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that sexually active women age 25 and younger be screened for chlamydia once per year.  The “I Know” home testing program has been a true success. In its first year the website received 30,878 total visits and 2,927 kits were ordered. A total of 1,543 testable swabs were returned, of which 131 (8.5%) were positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea.

“This program has been incredibly successful in promoting testing and finding STD cases,” said the Dr. Peter Kerndt, STD Program Director at the department, noting that few clinics can show a comparable rate of case detection, and that none can perform testing for such a broad cross-section of at-risk women. In addition, according to Dr. Kerndt, not all women can or will access a clinic, due to lack of transportation, privacy fears, or the lack of symptoms typical of these STDs. The launch of the new program coincides with the imminent opening of the new Martin Luther King, Jr Center for Public Health, at the corner of Wilmington and 120th Street, a County public health facility that went from ground-breaking to completion in less than one year.  According to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the expanded “I Know” program epitomizes the potential of public health, and dovetails with the mission of the new health center, in the 21st century.

“You can see that we have a community engagement room in this new health center, which opens large bay doors directly to the outside for large-scale events,” he said. “Like those bay doors, this health center will open the potential for public health far beyond its own walls: the “I Know” program will now be everywhere that we can put a kiosk, everywhere any partnering community agency can send an outreach worker with a tablet, and anywhere a woman has access to a computer or any phone. But for those who need treatment or follow-up exams, this new health center has its doors wide open.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted that the expansion of “I Know” is also linked to a comprehensive strategy, further extending linkages from clinics to the surrounding community. Other elements of the comprehensive strategy include an increase in community-based public health workers to follow-up on cases and ensure treatment of women and their partners, school education programs, clinic referral guides for high school and middle school students, a County authorized use of a mobile van for outreach and distribution of condoms and partnerships with community-based agencies, as well as faith-based organizations. These partnerships will put tablets in the hands of trained community outreach workers to deliver home test kits in the communities most impacted by these infections. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas emphasized that public health is a critical investment that local government must make, because there is no other entity to do so.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas also hosted a breakfast on September 1, 2011 for some of the leaders from the ecumenical community to enlist their support for his initiative. The poignant discussions has resulted in the First Ladies of the Faith-based community taking a stand on this issue and offering a well-thought out plan to work with the Second District and the Department of Public Health to empower young women to take charge of their overall health and well-being.  Previous evaluation of “I Know” conducted by the County’s STD Program showed that women ages 18-25 (all eligible for the home testing program) who had seen “I Know” marketing materials were more than 1.5 times more likely to have been tested for Chlamydia and gonorrhea in the past six months. The program also received an achievement award in 2010 from the National Association of Counties.

In 2010, there were 44,648 total reported cases of chlamydia and 9,501 total cases of gonorrhea among L.A. County residents. Among diseases with mandated reporting requirements, chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most commonly reported infectious diseases in the United States.

About eight kiosks will be placed around South Los Angeles. Test-takers are able to get their test results online or by calling 1-800-758-0880.

Press Release (PDF)
Gonorrhea Cases (PDF)
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea (PDF)
I Know Posters (PDF)

MEDIA COVERAGE

September 20, 2011

September 19, 2011


Ministers discuss the impact and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas hosted a ministers breakfast to engage in dialogue about how to best impact the health and wellbeing of at-risk youth particularly related to sexually transmitted diseases and other preventable diseases burdening communities in the second district.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

Answer
: The term “sexually transmitted diseases” or “STDs” represents a group of more than 25 different diseases that can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. An STD is a disease/infection you can get or give to someone else by having oral, vaginal or anal sex or other intimate contact with him/her.

How common are STDs?

Answer:
STDs are very common in the United States. There are 19 million new cases each year in the United States. By the age of 25, 1 in 2 sexually active people will contract an STD. 1 in 4 teenagers has an STD. In the United States, there are approximately 2.3 million new chlamydia infections a year. Over 40 million (1 in 5) people have genital herpes and 20 million have genital warts (HPV). These numbers surpass the 1 million cases of HIV(Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

What are the typical symptoms of STDs?

Answer:
Many STDs have no noticeable symptoms. In fact, a very common symptom of an STD is no symptoms at all. Having symptoms is a good thing because they let you know that something is wrong. When they do occur, typical STD symptoms for women may include unusual vaginal discharge (flow), sores, bumps, burning when urinating, and redness or itching around the vaginal area. Typical symptoms for men may include discharge from the penis, burning when urinating, and sores, bumps, or redness on or around the penis.

How are STDs transmitted?

Answer:
STDs can be transmitted through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. They can be transmitted from partner to partner with or without visible signs or symptoms. Many people can pass an STD to a sex partner without knowing it. Some STDs can be passed without having intercourse; they can be passed through skin-to-skin contact. Skin-to-skin contact is the rubbing or friction that takes place during intercourse or foreplay. This contact leads to tiny little cuts (micro tears) in the genital area which allow the STD agent (virus or bacteria) to enter the body. The skin is the largest organ in the body and is a protective barrier; however, when broken, foreign agents can enter the body.

Can herpes be passed when there are no symptoms?

Answer:
Yes, it is possible to infect someone with herpes, even when you don’t have any symptoms. Once thought to be transmitted only when sores were present, recent research has shown that herpes simplex virus (HSV) can be passed even when no visible signs are present.

Can I get STDs from a towel or a toilet seat?

Answer:
Most STDs, such as chlamydiagonorrheasyphilisherpes, and genital warts, are spread only through direct sexual contact with an infected person. Crabs (pubic lice) or scabies, which are often sexually transmitted, can be passed through contact with infected items like clothes, sheets, or towels. It is highly unlikely for a person to contract an STD from a toilet seat.

What should I do if I think I have an STD?

Answer:
If you think you have an STD, see a health care provider immediately. Seeking treatment early will help to minimize the long-term effects of most STDs. For gonorrhea and chlamydia infections, avoid sexual contact until you are cured. Make sure your partner(s) get tested and treated too. Otherwise, you can get re-infected. Some clinics can give you medication to take home to your partner(s). Viral STDs such as herpes and genital wartsare not curable but medications are available for their treatment and management. For STD clinic locations in Los Angeles County, call the Los Angeles STD Hotline at (800) 758-0880 oir visit our clinics section. For all other areas, contact your local or state health department for a clinic near you. Most STD clinics provide services for free or at low cost.

Can I get an STD more than once?

Answer:
You are not “immune” to an STD if you have had it before. STDs caused by bacteria (chlamydiagonorrhea, and syphilis) can be treated and cured, but you can get them again if exposed. Viral STDs (such as herpes and genital warts) cannot be cured and may remain in your body forever. People who have had Hepatitis B in the past and “cleared” it, develop immunity to that infection.

Can all STDs be cured?

Answer:
Bacterial STDs like chlamydiagonorrhea and syphilis, can be easily treated and cured. Viral STDs like herpesgenital warts, and HIV are incurable, but there are treatments available to lessen the severity of the disease. Vaccines are available to prevent the onset of certain STDs such asHepatitis B and HPV. For vaccines to be effective, a person has to be vaccinated before they are exposed to the infection. For this reason, it is recommended that most people get vaccinated against these infections at an early age.

Is it true that if I get tested for HIV, I get tested for all STDs?

Answer:
No. Each STD, including HIV, has its own test. Talk to your doctor or other health provider to make sure you’re getting the test you need.

Can I test myself for STDs?

Answer:
Currently, there are no home tests for STDs available in Los Angeles. The only way to know if you have an STD is to see a healthcare provider and get tested. See our clinics section for free and low cost testing.

Do I have to go to a clinic to get my STD treated?

Answer: Yes. It is very important to go to a clinic or other healthcare facility to get tested and treated for your STD. Avoid online treatments of STDs. Some websites offer STD treatment for a fee. Please note that these are not approved by the FDA and do not cure or treat the infection. For proper treatment and care, please see your doctor or other healthcare provider. For a list of STD clinics in Los Angeles County, please call the STD Hotline at 1-800-758-0880 or visit our clinics section. For all other areas, contact your local or state health department for a clinic near you. Most STD clinics provide services for free or at low-cost.

How serious are the complications of STDs?

Answer:
If left untreated, STDs can lead to major health problems. HIV can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Other STDs can cause infertility, tubal pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and serious complications in newborns. HPV can lead to cervical cancer in some women if not diagnosed in time. For this reason, it is very important for women to get regular pap smears.  The onset of STD complications varies from person to person. Generally speaking, complications from STDs can occur within months to years after infection.

Are women at greater risk for STDs?

Answer:
Yes, women are at greater risk for many STDs, including HIV. Women are biologically more susceptible than men to becoming infected if exposed to an STD. STDs are also less likely to produce symptoms in women, and therefore are more difficult to diagnose until serious problems develop, such as PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease).

What is the best protection against STDs?

Answer:
All STDs are preventable. Abstinence (not having sex) is the only sure way to prevent an STD. If you are having sex, correctly using male (latex or polyurethane) or female (polyurethane) condoms can significantly reduce the risk of getting an STD.  Limiting your number of sex partners and number of risky sexual encounters can also reduce your risk of getting an STD.  See Prevention

What is the link between HIV and other STDs?

Answer:
Many STDs increase the risk of HIV transmission. syphilis and herpes cause ulcerations or sores which can provide HIV with easy access into the bloodstream. CShlamydiagonorrhea and trichomoniasis infections lead to inflammation. Inflammation causes an increase in CD4+cells, cells targeted by HIV. This is believed to increase a person’s chances of becoming infected with HIV if exposed. People with an STD such as syphilisgenital herpeschlamydiagonorrhea, or trichomoniasis are 3 to 5 times more likely to contract HIV, if exposed, than people who are not infected with an STD.

I’ve just been diagnosed with an STD. Does this mean my partner has lied or cheated on me?

Answer:
No, not necessarily. Not everyone will have symptoms of an STD even though they are infected. A partner can pass a disease to another without ever knowing s/he has had something. You, the unfortunate current partner, may be the one that actually ends up with symptoms. You may also have received your STD from a previous partner years ago and are just now seeing the signs of the disease.

How can I tell if my partner has an STD?

Answer:
In most cases, you cannot tell by looking if someone has an STD. STDs often do not have visible symptoms.

If I get a pap smear regularly, wouldn’t the doctor tell me if I had an STD?

Answer:
No, not necessarily. A pap smear is looking for cancerous or pre-cancerous cells. STD exams are unique tests that look for specific STDs. They may take the form of a blood, culture, or urine test. Be sure and ask your doctor for the name of the test you want done (for instance, chlamydiasyphilis, or HIV).


For information on free and low cost STD testing and treatment services in Los Angeles County, call the STD Hotline at 1-800-758-0880 or visit our
STD Testing & Services section of the County website. 

 

Painting for the future of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas addresses 200 young scholars at the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital.

A sea of smiles from 200 children ages five to 16, surrounded the Supervisor and his wife Mrs. Avis Ridley-Thomas as they arrived at the Interns and Residents Building at the new Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital.

Led by City Year staff to their canvases with smocks on and paintbrushes in hand, these children were ready to paint panels for display on the 900 foot – long Multi- Service Ambulatory Care Center walkway.

Freedom School scholars cheer and chant in preparation for painting.

The student artists were drawn from several Freedom Schools, a six week summer literacy program in the Second District. As part of the Freedom School Curriculum, Freedom School students read books, illustrate their comprehension through arts, crafts, dance, sports and music, go on field trips, and engage in community service in a nurturing environment that fosters growth and development.

Freedom School’s was established in 1992, by Children’s Defense Fund founder and children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, Freedom Schools provide rigorous, quality summer and after school instruction to children who live in urban areas. The programming, which is both challenging and entertaining, is based on the belief that all children are capable of learning and achieving high standards.

For the past month, the schools in the second district have taught more than 200 students at the four sites located at: First New Christian Fellowship in South L.A.; Bethel A.M.E. Church in South L.A; Community Coalition at Foshay Learning Center in South L.A; and First Church of God in Inglewood.[pullquote_right]”Your young , intellectual, and creative minds are painting dreams of a bright future,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.[/pullquote_right]


In preparation for the 2013 opening of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas partnered with City Year Los Angeles, the Department of Public Works, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multi- Service Ambulatory Care Center to provide Freedom School students with the opportunity to paint the mural.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas & Ms. Avis Ridley-Thomas direct young painters on the “dream” mural.

The finished product was a colorful collage that depicts dreams of a bright future for themselves and their community.

The mural will be displayed in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center.