This blog highlights the NCSD's activities and initiatives during STD Awareness Month.
As STD Awareness Month ends, I would like to take a moment to reflect on this month’s activities. Here at NCSD, we have been promoting STD Awareness Month in the following ways:
As for NCSD’s clinic work, we have been busy throughout the month of April! We have rebranded this program as Clinic+: The STD and Sexual Health Clinic Initiative to better represent STD service providers across the US. This national initiative is focused on building the capacity of public and private STD clinics across the country and advocating for the resources needed to meet the demands of their front-line work to reduce STD infections and promote sexual health. Here’s a brief snapshot of some things we have been working on!
NCSD partnered with Diagnostics Direct to award 14 different sites a total of 2,000 tests! Donations ranged from 100 to 200 tests per site and the goal for this donation was to award sites who were planning an STD testing event as part of their STD Awareness Month activities. For those who received the award, we asked them to write a blog post about their testing event and their experience using the Syphilis Health Check tests. Be on the lookout for blogs from the following agencies over the next month detailing their event!
|Georgia State University – Atlanta, GA||Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge – Baton Rouge, LA|
|San Antonio Fighting Back, Inc – San Antonio, TX||Outreach Community Care Network – Daytona Beach, FL|
|Calhoun County Public Health Department – Battle Creek, MI||University of Wisconsin La Crosse Student Health Center – La Crosse, WI|
|Georgia Department of Public Health – Augusta, GA||Sonoma County Public Health – Santa Rosa, CA|
|Prince George’s County Health Department – Cheverly, MD||Galveston County Health District – Texas City, TX|
|Miracle of Love, Inc – Orlando, FL||DeKalb County Board of Health – Chamblee, GA|
|San Francisco Department of Public Health – San Francisco, CA||Allen County Department of Health – Fort Wayne, IN|
After months of hard work creating and finalizing our clinic assessment, we have started collecting data! It is a brief, 20-minute online assessment for STD service providers so NCSD can learn more about the existing STD clinical landscape. We will use the information collected to describe the current state of STD clinical landscape and advocate for resources needed by clinics to continue providing these desperately needed services.
We are releasing the survey in phases, so if you have already received the assessment and haven’t completed it, please do so as soon as possible and filter it out to your networks. Finally, if you want to verify that someone from your agency has completed the assessment, please reach out to Summer Wagner-Walker and she will be happy to look this up for you. We can’t wait to produce our first report of information gathered by June!
We are finalizing our plans for our first community of practice which will be launched in July! We will help identify elements for service enhancement, facilitate peer-to-peer sharing, and share best practices among STD service providers united around a common goal. Those who are selected for the community of practice will participate in bi-monthly meetings, attend an in-person meeting in Washington DC, have access to planning tools and expert consultations, and more to implement changes within their clinic. Keep an eye out for more information to come, including recruitment of interested clinics, in mid to late-May!
STD Prevention Programs need increased funding to build their infrastructure, invest in the development of their DIS staff, and continue to provide services to those impacted by STDs.
The last item I want to cover as part of this blog is the first listening session for the STD Federal Action Plan which occurred on April 17th. This was the first time I have participated in something like this and as someone who has worked at the local level as a DIS, state level as an STD program specialist, and now the national level, I brought an impassioned perspective to the call with my comments. While these are specifically my views, I am happy to share them in this blog.
I advocated for the STD Action Plan to increase funds for the prevention and intervention of STDs which includes funding STD clinical services. STD Prevention Programs need increased funding to build their infrastructure, invest in the development of their DIS staff, and continue to provide services to those impacted by STDs. Additionally, with adolescents and young adults experiencing the highest rates of STDs, the STD Action Plan needs to include comprehensive, medically accurate sex education including risk reduction for all students, regardless of where they live here in US, as these are skills they will need as an adult.
The STD Action Plan also needs to include money for publicly funded STD clinics to build infrastructure of existing clinics and expand services by implementing new clinics, particularly in rural areas. Two of the largest barriers I have seen for patients accessing STD care were stigma from their primary providers and overall lack of access to STD specialty care where they live. Finally, the STD Action Plan needs to include funding for STD research which includes new diagnostic technologies such as point of care testing and new treatments, especially with the rise of antibiotic resistance. All of these components go hand in hand and if we have any hope of reversing the rising rates of STDs, it will require a multipronged approach to combat the growing STD epidemic.
I highly recommend anyone working in the STD Prevention field to attend the next listening session on May 9th from 3-5 PM ET. Information on the next listening session can be found here.
As you can see, we have been incredibly busy here at NCSD during STD Awareness Month as an organization and with the Clinic+ Initiative itself. Keep an eye out for some great blogs from our Syphilis Health Check awardees, exciting new partnerships, and more developments around the Clinic+ Initiative from the future Mrs. Summer Miller!