Amid Rising STD Rates in the US, Cost Barriers Stymie Testing and Screening

In a recent articleRewire.News discusses the challenges people face in paying for services that protect sexual health, such as STD screenings and birth control. In particular, the article focuses on how young people, people with low income, people of color, and those who are uninsured or underinsured are too often forced to decline care as a result of cost. The article highlights these issues and explores how proposed changes to Title X could exacerbate them.

Title X family planning clinics play a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and preventive health services. The extent of on-site testing, education, and counseling services in these clinics is based on the availability of funds, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the article, Rebekah Horowitz, Senior Program Analyst on NACCHO’s HIV, STI, and Viral Hepatitis Team, told Rewire.News that funding for these services has decreased at every level in the past 15 years, which has led to a decrease in health departments providing clinical STI testing.

“This means that there is additional pressure to get people insured so they can see a non-health department provider and normalize the provision of, and request for, these services from these providers. If there is a stigma from the individual and the provider around talking about sexual health issues, the movement towards using insurance and seeing private providers for these services will lead to many not receiving the services,” she said.

Health departments are often the only providers of partner services, which are offered to those who test positive for an STI, their partners, and to other people who are at increased risk for infection. The basic process for partner services involves interviewing infected people and others potentially involved in transmission, identifying those still at risk, and bringing them to diagnosis and treatment, Horowitz said.

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About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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