A great week was spent at the NCSD 2016 Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ!
We were able to spend time with colleagues, learn from the successes and challenges of our partners, and attend some really great sessions. The meeting was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the latest and greatest in STD prevention. As a new full member, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and network with new partners, discuss common issues and challenges, and potential solutions. As Albert Einstein once said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” After attending the meeting, I have questions that remain.
Many of our conversations this past week centered on how to be more effective in our communications with our colleagues, target audiences, and patients. We learned from Ms. Kellie Mullen that we have, on average, 45 seconds to interest our audience and answer “What’s in it for me?” and “So what?”. We discussed how to engage with the media, providing comments that spark interest and further our prevention efforts. Mr. Carl Sandler challenged us to be thoughtful and to use creative and engaging content to tell a story. We spend a lot of time presenting data about diseases, screening and treatment, and prevention strategies but do not focus on how our audience might best receive those messages. Dr. Gail Bolan discussed challenges we face in our prevention efforts with rising rates of STDs. How can we be more strategic in our efforts to address increasing rates of chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea? We heard concerns about congenital syphilis and antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. As the challenges of STD prevention evolve, so must our education and interventions. Part of our success in addressing these diseases is to ensure our message is relevant and initiates a desire to act.
During our discussions, it became apparent that now, more than ever, we must rely on our extensive network of local, state, and federal partners to further prevention efforts. Mr. Murray Penner provided a very helpful overview of what we know so far and what we can reasonably expect. However, many questions about the transition and the impact remain. Will we be able to rely on federal funding, or our partners in Title X and Planned Parenthood to support our efforts? In a time of limited resources where we are seeing disease incidence increase, we must be good stewards of our funding and resources. How can we capitalize on what our colleagues have done and make it work in our jurisdiction? We need to be looking across programs, state lines, and the nation for ways to collaborate and learn from our colleagues.
As mentioned above, my first NCSD Annual Meeting experience was a wonderful one! We have made great progress in STD prevention and I look forward to hearing more at the next NCSD Annual Meeting as we continue our work with our local, state, and national partners. May we all be encouraged by the work of the past and look forward to the work of the future.