Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Knocking on doors, climbing through fences: How L.A. County's health investigators are out trying to stop syphilis

Knocking on doors, climbing through fences: How L.A. County's health investigators are out trying to stop syphilis

Roberto Rocha has been yelled at and called names. Men have threatened to shoot him. He’s visited jails, knocked on doors and approached strangers across L.A. County — all in search of syphilis.

The centuries-old disease referenced in Shakespeare plays is making a comeback, and Rocha is trying to stop it, one infected Angeleno at a time. Though its initial symptoms are mild, syphilis can lead to paralysis, blindness and miscarriages if left untreated.

Every day, Rocha and dozens of other L.A. County public health workers get in their cars to search for people who might have been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. They believe the only way to end an outbreak is to cure...

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