In an exciting move towards combating the growing prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently allocated a substantial sum of $12.5 million to 26 recipients throughout the United States. The funding will be used to bolster clinic infrastructure and enhance access to comprehensive sexual health services in communities that bear higher STI burdens while suffering from unmet needs from the lack of STI clinical services.
This momentous allocation of funds was made possible through a new funding opportunity, PS-23-0011: Enhancing STI and Sexual Health Clinic Infrastructure (ESSHCI), supported by the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative.
Why This Matters
The urgency of this funding cannot be overstated in a time when reproductive health resources are being cut in many parts of the country. The existing infrastructure of sexual health clinics, specifically STI clinics, has proven to be insufficient in addressing the surge in new STI cases. Unless additional measures are taken to expand the reach and quality of sexual health services in the communities most affected, we will continue to see the upward trend in STIs.
The ESSHCI was established to enhance the capacity of participating clinics to provide high-quality comprehensive sexual health services, leading to increased access to stigma-free sexual health services in underserved and overburdened communities.
How it Works
The ESSHCI has developed three strategies to actively and meaningfully engage with the communities chosen. Recipients of this funding are required to implement at two of the equitable, community-informed strategies listed below, designed to help decrease the prevalence and spread of STIs.
- Strategy A: Foster Community Engagement and Partnerships
- This strategy mandates recipients to build active and meaningful partnerships with priority populations affected by the STI epidemic. It also calls for the mobilization of public health partners to develop clinic-level plans that will substantially increase access to high-quality comprehensive sexual health services. The planning activities for Strategy A will occur in Year 1.
-Strategy B: Strengthen Clinic Infrastructure and Provision of Sexual Health Services
- Under this strategy, recipients are required to either establish a new sexual health clinic or expand an existing clinic to include specialized STI and sexual health services. Implementation activities for Strategy B are slated to occur over Years 1 through 5.
-Strategy C: Expand Access to STI Prevention & Other Sexual Health Services Supporting a Syndemic Approach
- This one is an optional, competitive strategy available for Years 1 through 5. If funded under Strategy C, recipients will conduct short-term activities that support a syndemic approach.
While five ESSHCI recipients are proposing the establishment of brand new sexual health clinics, the majority of recipients will focus on expanding sexual health services within existing clinical settings. These settings include primary care clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and FQHC look-alikes, teen health clinics, community health centers, and more.
Congratulations to the following CDC partners who work continuously in their efforts to combat of STIs and HIV in the United States:
- Massachusetts General
- City of New York
- Family Health Centers of San Diego, Inc.
- Baylor College of Medicine
- Wyckoff Heights Medical Center
- UT Southwestern Medical Center
- Fenway Community Health Center, Inc.
- Washington University
- Empowerment Resource Center, Inc.
- Chase Brexton Health Services, Inc.
- Prism Health North Texas
- Courage Medicine Health Center, Inc.
- My Brother's Keeper, Inc.
- New Jersey Community Research Initiative
- Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Services, Research and Health Advancement
- University of Mississippi Medical Center
- San Francisco AIDS Foundation
- Quality Comprehensive Health Center
- Rural Health Services, Inc
- City of Long Beach
- Alabama Department of Public Health
- Mobile County Board of Health
- Wellspace Health
- Lutheran Social Services to Central Ohio, Inc.
This substantial allocation of $12.5 million in funding from the CDC will go far in bolstering sexual health clinic infrastructure. By enhancing community engagement, strengthening clinic infrastructure, and expanding access to sexual health resources, ESSHCI can help these organizations make an even greater difference in the lives of their communities and contribute to the overarching goal of ending the spread of STIs in the United States.
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