Washington, DC – Today, the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues (Women’s Caucus), a bipartisan membership organization within the House of Representatives, issued a letter to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calling for new initiatives and resources to address the growing STD epidemics and asking the Trump Administration take steps to mitigate this crisis. This letter comes as CDC reported recently that STDs reached all-time highs in the U.S., following five years of dramatic increases.
“NCSD applauds the Women’s Caucus for recognizing that our nation’s health is not a partisan issue and we thank these Congressional leaders for their support,” says David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD). “We now turn to our public health leaders at HHS and CDC to answer the call.”
Women too often bear the brunt of these epidemics. Women, for biological reasons, are prone to the long-term ill-effects of STDs. These infections can lead to cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, ectopic pregnancies, cancer, and newborn death. Chlamydia, our nation’s most frequently reported infection, causes infertility in more than 24,000 women each year. Also, worrisome trends have emerged in mother-to-child transmission of syphilis (congenital syphilis). Between 2017 and 2018, congenital syphilis cases nearly doubled 40 percent and deaths associated with congenital syphilis increased 22 percent.
“This is a critical women’s health issue that too often gets ignored. We need new funding and new initiatives to kick start a national response and this support from the Women’s Caucus will go a long way in making that happen,” says Taryn Couture, NCSD’s associate director of government relations.
NCSD has called on Congress to support an $82 million increase to the STD Prevention funding line in FY2021 at CDC to support state and local health departments – our nation’s first-line of defense against these infections. The STD prevention funding line has seen effectively a 40 percent reduction in purchasing power since 2003 leading to cutbacks in staff and services. STD programs are becoming overwhelmed by the STD surge and turning the tide will require a national response, like the one called for by the Women’s Caucus.
The National Coalition of STD Directors is a national public health membership organization representing health department STD directors, their support staff, and community-based partners across 50 states, seven large cities, and eight US territories. Our mission is to advance effective STD prevention programs and services across the country. NCSD does this as the voice of our membership. We provide leadership, build capacity, convene partners, and advocate. Go to ncsddc.org for more information.