HIV testing down, positive cases up in San Mateo County 

Fewer people were tested for HIV in San Mateo County last year, but more tested positive over prior years, according to the latest health study.

The STD/HIV fourth-quarter report by the San Mateo County Health System, STD/HIV Program, suggests that 2010 was a level-out year for sexually transmitted disease infection rates overall among San Mateo County residents.

Sixty-four people tested positive for HIV in the county in 2010, compared to 57 in each of the previous two years. Infectious rates for other STDs — including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and pelvic inflammatory disease — had decreased from 2008 to 2009 in the county and are now back up near their prior levels in most cases.

“2009 was a blip year,” San Mateo County STD/HIV Program Director Matt Geltmaker said. The 2010 report reflected figures that the health department viewed as “normal,” he said.

“There’s nothing alarming,” Geltmaker said of the late-December report.

The most prevalent reported STD in the county last year was chlamydia, with 1,923 cases, an increase of 220 cases from the prior year, but still 86 below the 2008 level. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are both on the rise since 2008, by nine and 187 reported cases, respectively.

“Basically, [the numbers] go up and down,” said San Mateo County Health System spokeswoman Robyn Thaw.

The report also showed that the majority of HIV testing was done not at San Mateo County’s main STD clinic, but at various facilities throughout the Peninsula.    

“The STD clinic that we run is only open for two four-hour slots a week … as opposed to other county clinics that are open five days a week,” Geltmaker said.

Though not alarmed by the findings, Geltmaker said reaching out to high-risk STD communities — most notably gay men — remains a priority.

“That, we already knew about,” Geltmaker said. “Whenever there is outreach performed, we target these high-risk populations.”

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