Amidst STD crisis, redeployments for COVID-19 deplete already spread thin network
Washington, DC – More than half of the nation’s public health outbreak response workforce, STD disease investigation specialists (DIS), have been redeployed for COVID-19, and up to half of the nation’s STD clinics are closed or repurposed for the virus, estimates National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), a national public health organization.
“We are grateful that the nation is utilizing the expert skills of our nation’s frontline STD responders, disease intervention specialists. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst STD epidemic in our history, our public health system is starved for support,” says David C. Harvey, executive director at NCSD. “We call upon Congress to provide a minimum of $50 million to support the hiring of 500 new DIS throughout the country to kick start a response to stem the spread of coronavirus and maintain minimum STD preventive services,” Harvey continues.
“DIS are the backbones of STD response and pivotal to our nation’s outbreak response;” says Leandra Lacy, senior manager with NCSD supporting the work of DIS throughout the country. Lacy adds, “we need more DIS or we will continue to lose ground against both STDs and coronavirus.”
DIS are a highly trained workforce. While primarily used in investigation of STDs and HIV, this workforce is often called in as the first responders during a disease outbreak, going out to communities to perform contact tracing, interviews, and install interventions to stem the chain of infection. Appropriately, DIS have been called into action for COVID-19 response, and our nation’s response to all-time highs in STDs has sputtered.
Simply, there are not enough DIS to go around. For decades, our nation’s STD prevention network has been underfunded, operating at effectively a 40 percent reduction in purchasing power since 2003. NCSD is calling on Congress to act now by increasing funding immediately for CDC’s STD prevention services by $50 million, the bare minimum it will take to start an effective response to the COVID-19 emergency and the STD epidemics.
Contact: Matthew Prior, 570-878-3847, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.