A blog featuring Allison Wallen, a DIS from the Hillsborough County Health Department. Allison was one of the DIS Engage scholarship winners from STD Engage 2020.
What I enjoyed most about STD Engage was learning and hearing from so many people who are passionate about sexual health. I also enjoyed watching all the different speakers and learning about their roles. There were lots of ideas on how to keep advancing the work we are currently doing and how to better reach the community. I was very grateful to be a scholarship recipient and can’t wait to put what I learned into action.
What stood out to me the most were ways to communicate sex positivity without the stigma.
There were a lot things that I learned at STD Engage that I plan to implement in my work. What stood out to me the most were ways to communicate sex positivity without the stigma. I learned it’s best to listen to my clients and be aware of various sexual behaviors that people engage in so that I can be better equipped to inform others on different sexual practices. It’s important to listen and not judge when someone is disclosing something to me, even if it is something that I may not engage in personally, because I need to be aware as a professional. Also, if there is something that my client has mentioned that I’m not familiar with it, its okay to ask them to explain more but do so in a polite and professional way.
The biggest challenges faced by DIS is partner elicitation. Often, clients will come in and receive their treatment but they sometimes refuse to disclose any of their partners contact information. I feel that there’s a certain distrust that clients have when it comes to the health department and telling a stranger who your partners are. If there was a way for patients to anonymously submit their partners contact information to the health department, I think we would see an increase in being able to contact partners.
Hello! My name is Allison Wallen, and I am currently a Disease Intervention Specialist for the Hillsborough County Health Department in Florida. I earned my undergraduate degree in public health with a minor in maternal and child health from the University of South Florida. I am currently taking steps to further my education by taking a few health, safety, and environment classes. In my free time I enjoy trying different foods and travelling to different places and learning about their cultures.