A reflection on the 2016 NCSD Annual Meeting
I have been a Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) for the Iowa Department of Public Health for 13 years and an Associate Member of NCSD since we were able to join as a result of former Executive Director, Bill Smith’s vision to expand membership. Being a DIS has provided me with the opportunity to directly impact the health and well-being of the many people I have had conversations with over the years. It is a profession that I see as much more than an entry level public health job with the opportunity to have a positive impact in our communities. I am excited to go to work every day and am proud of the work DIS accomplish. As a scholarship recipient and first time attendee at the NCSD Annual Meeting I was overwhelmed with the acknowledgment and support extended to DIS members. I immediately felt that having a purple DIS ribbon on my name tag was seen as an accomplishment in dedication, resourcefulness, knowledge, compassion, awareness, and persistence.
The development of a National DIS Society and DIS Certification are very important to the work we do and something that I am very passionate about. Having these topics discussed with the pre-meeting focus group and at lunch the first day were an amazing way to set the tone of Celebrating 20 years of STD Prevention Leadership. Many of the non-DIS attendees I met and had conversations with were at one time a DIS themselves and carry the principles, values and skill set of a DIS with them in their current positions. It was an honor to be a part of these discussions and comprehending of the impact of our work in the prevention of STDs.
My favorite session was “Sex Positive Approaches”. I was impressed with the presentations and words of Michelle Allen, Dr. Dennis Fortenberry, and Dr. B.W. Furness. As a DIS we are always battling the stigma of STDs and sexual behavior. With every conversation I have with people I always do my best to empower them in their decisions to have sex and discuss with them the unnecessary stigma attached to STDs. Having these discussions with people is just as important as eliciting partners. As discussed in this session, sex positivity is an approach to sex and human sexuality that embraces the full benefits of consensual sexual interaction as healthy and uplifting, based on the premise that sexual expression is good and healthy and that societal repression or control of an individual’s sex-drive is bad and unhealthy. Sex Positive people advocate comprehensive sex education, because even in a free-sex utopia one must still be wary of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
I am very excited to use and share all the knowledge and tools I gained from attending the NCSD Annual Meeting. Thank you to the scholarship selection committee for giving me the opportunity to attend and represent DIS in the important work we do.