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Media Contact:
Craig Bowers
Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer
213.201.1475
cbowers@apla.org
10.4.21

Governor Newsom Signs Comprehensive Bill to Address Skyrocketing STI Rates

SB 306 will expand access to STI testing at home and in the community, increase access to STI treatment, and boost congenital syphilis screening

Governor Newsom today signed SB 306 – a comprehensive and innovative measure designed to tackle California’s skyrocketing rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The bill was authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and cosponsored by APLA Health, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Essential Access Health, Fresno Barrios Unidos, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

“California is facing an out-of-control STI crisis that was raging even before the pandemic – disproportionately impacting youth, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community,” said APLA Health CEO Craig E. Thompson. “SB 306 provides a comprehensive approach to strengthen the state’s public health infrastructure and expand access to STI testing and treatment at a time when it is most desperately needed. We applaud Dr. Pan for taking on this urgent issue and thank Governor Newsom for signing the bill into law.”

For the past six years, STI rates in California have reached record highs. More than 325,000 Californians were diagnosed with syphilis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea in 2019 – up 40% since 2013. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the epidemic, with STI testing and treatment rates sharply declining over the last year while new transmissions continued to increase.

In Los Angeles, cases of congenital syphilis have spiked since 2018 and continue to grow. Congenital syphilis rates increased over 1000% in the last decade, with 113 congenital syphilis cases reported in 2020 compared to just 10 in 2010. Fortunately, congenital syphilis can be prevented if pregnant people have access to testing and treatment in the first and third trimester of pregnancy.

SB 306 is an important step to addressing this ongoing public health crisis and achieving greater health equity statewide. The bill will expand access to STI testing and treatment by:

  • Requiring health plans to cover at-home test kits for HIV and STIs
  • Increasing the number of providers that can provide STI testing in the community
  • Supporting the delivery of expedited partner therapy, which allows patients to obtain STI treatment for their partners
  • Requiring syphilis screening during both the first and third trimester of pregnancy

APLA Health offers fast and confidential HIV and STD testing across LA County. You can learn more about our services and how to schedule an appointment here.