The Riverside County Syphilis Community Collaborative will meet twice in September – once in Palm Desert and once in Riverside – to continue its discussion about the surge in syphilis cases and what can be done to slow the spread of the illness.

Along with the discussion, participants in the Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 meetings will get their first glance at an action plan being developed by county health officials that uses information gathered during the first two collaborative meetings held in May and June in the Coachella Valley.

The spike in syphilis cases first came to the public’s attention in May when county officials released alarming data.

The surge of syphilis cases in the region, particularly in the Coachella Valley, where the rate of infection is nearly three times the rate countywide.

The spread of syphilis has been a growing concern in California and nationally for several years. In Riverside County, the rate is about 12 cases per 100,000 population, according to the latest figures. However, the rate for the Coachella Valley is 32 per 100,000, and in Palm Springs that figure is well over 100 cases per 100,000.

Consider these stats:

  • North Palm Springs has the highest rate of syphilis in Riverside County at 185 cases per 100,000 population.
  • Men make up more than 90 percent of all cases in Riverside County.
  • While Whites make up the highest number of cases in the Coachella Valley, Blacks have the highest rate of infection at 67.1 per 100,000 population.

The Sept. 10 meeting is scheduled at the UC, Riverside Palm Desert Campus, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Building B. The Sept. 11 meeting will take place at the offices of Community Action Partnership of Riverside County, 2038 Iowa Ave., Suite B-101, Riverside. Both meetings begin at 1:30 p.m.

“Syphilis isn’t just an issue for the Coachella Valley – it’s a scourge anywhere in Riverside County,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for the county. “But different communities deserve unique solutions, and we expect to have the same type of lively discussion and debate at the next two meetings as we develop and finalize an action plan.”

The community collaborative meetings are part of Riverside University Health System-Public Health’s “Spotlight on Syphilis (S.O.S.)” campaign to bring attention to the ongoing spike in cases and identify strategies to reduce infections.

By sharing information and ideas, health officials hope they can come up with achievable strategies and goals.

To register for the Sept. 10 meeting click here.

To register for the Sept. 11 meeting click here.

For more information, click here.