Washington, D.C. — Each year, roughly 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, are diagnosed, costing approximately $16 billion annually. Despite being a common, preventable, and treatable health problem, STIs remain a deeply troubling risk to the country’s public and economic health. Today, the Center for American Progress issued a new analysis outlining the need for multiple types of funding and health care sites for STI testing and treatment and put forth policy recommendations to ensure that all those who need STI testing and treatment are able to access quality services.
At some point in their lives, most sexually active people will be infected with an STI. However, STIs disproportionately burden certain segments of the population, including African Americans and Latinos; people living in rural and Southern regions of the United States; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people; and women. And while many seek health care services from a private doctor, some—especially women—are becoming increasingly reliant on other service sites such as publicly funded clinics.
“Public funding through Title X and other sources has not kept pace with need, which is evident given increasing infection rates,” said Donna Barry, Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress. “To prevent the spread of STIs and promote better treatment, all populations must have access to a variety of testing and treatment sites. Health care providers and policymakers should work to break down the social and economic barriers that obstruct many from receiving the adequate education and care needed to prevent and treat STIs.”
Given the growing number of individuals who seek STI care at publicly funded clinics—whether community, independent, health department, or Title X clinics—it is critical that sites remain open and accessible. To ensure that the populations most vulnerable to STIs have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, CAP’s analysis recommends that policymakers appropriate more funds to Title X clinics and that all states expand Medicaid. For individuals who receive care from private providers, CAP urges all providers to remain educated about STI rates and risks, as well as incorporate questions about sexual and reproductive health into regular visits.
CAP’s analysis also recommends policies that present accurate information about STIs as part of sex education curricula and strengthen protections of patient information. Due to a lack of federal funding for sexual and reproductive health services, the analysis also calls for funding from private grants for public programs and recommends expanding the rollout of successful pilot programs.
Read the analysis: Ensuring Access to Sexually Transmitted Infection Care for All by Donna Barry and McKinley Sherrod
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