If implemented with substantial new funding, plan could dramatically reduce STD rates
For Immediate Release: December 17, 2020
Contact: Iman Karnabi, email@example.com, 336-830-2493
Washington, DC –NCSD applauds the launch of America’s first-ever National STI Strategic Plan. This accomplishment could not come at a more consequential moment for our nation’s public health system.
The coronavirus pandemic has massively disrupted STD prevention and care. STD programs have been forced to redirect limited staff and resources to the COVID-19 response, while facing shortages of basic supplies like swabs for STD testing. Even before the pandemic, STDs were a fast-growing public health crisis, with rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis hitting record highs for several years straight.
With its new plan, the federal government finally acknowledges the scale of the crisis. NCSD has been calling for this plan for many years, and we commend Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the Assistant Secretary of Health, for leading its development.
If aggressively implemented with significant new financial resources, the plan could dramatically reduce STD rates and alleviate some of our nation’s worst health inequities. It is comprehensive and data-driven, and it rightly addresses the overlapping syndemics of STDs, HIV, and viral hepatitis. It clearly addresses stigma and other social determinants of health, recognizing that the unequal burden of STDs is the result of systemic racism, poverty, and other challenges in people’s lives.
The plan can also help accelerate recent innovations in STD testing and care, including the use of telehealth and at-home self-collection STD tests. These have helped keep STD services alive through the coronavirus pandemic, and they should be embraced beyond it.
But the plan is not enough. The document includes no commitment of federal funding. It has no implementation plan, metrics, or estimates of resource needs. Its indicators lack basis in reality, since there are no 2020 figures to use as baselines.
We call on President-Elect Joe Biden to translate this plan into action in the first months of his administration. He should direct relevant agencies to create an aggressive implementation plan with realistic targets, and ensure they have the resources to back it up. To that end, he must also work with Congress to reverse decades of funding cuts to federal, state, and local STD programs. Specifically, NCSD is calling for $272.9 million for the Division of STD Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with a new $500 million funding stream to increase staffing, training, and services at the nation’s specialty STD clinics.
Historic neglect of STD and other public health programs left us unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic and future threats. It is time to repair the damage. By aggressively pursuing the National STI Strategic Plan, the coming Biden-Harris administration can help to rebuild America’s public health system for generations to come.
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.