Combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reached an all-time high in the United States in 2018, reaching 2.4 million cases. This marked the fifth consecutive year of sharp increases in STDs. For more than a century, sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics have provided critical prevention and care for these common infections. Today, data show that STD clinics serve a high volume of racial/ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and transgender people, and that they have become a primary source of both STD and HIV prevention services for people without regular access to healthcare. As a result, STD clinics will play a vital role in the nation’s ambitious federal initiative Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE). However, these clinics are vastly under-resourced. An FY2020 investment from the HHS Minority HIV/AIDS Fund (MHAF) aims to address that by bolstering training and technical assistance (T/TA) efforts so STD specialty clinics can better provide HIV prevention services.
Optimizing STD specialty clinic services is a cornerstone of the STD control strategy in the United States. The CDC-funded National Network of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinical Prevention Training Centers (NNPTC) comprises eight regional and two national training centers – The National STD Prevention Training Centers Coordination Center (NPTC3) and the National STD Curriculum Center. The NNPTC was created more than 40 years ago in partnership with health departments and universities. The PTCs are dedicated to increasing the knowledge and skills of health professionals in the areas of sexual and reproductive health.
Leveraging the infrastructure and expertise already in place through this dynamic collaborative, the HHS MHAF investment will allow the NNPTCs to provide effective T/TA to enhance and scale up HIV prevention services, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (or PEP) provision, in STD specialty clinics. Activities could include, for example, providing onsite or distance-based (web or phone) consultations, guidance to conduct clinic assessments, in-person site visits, and resources. These efforts will strengthen the clinical, laboratory infrastructure, and health delivery systems of STD specialty clinics serving a high proportion of racial/ethnic and sexual minorities in EHE jurisdictions.
These training, technical assistance, and capacity building efforts launched in August 2020. Eight training centers and two national centers will share the $4 million investment as follows:
Columbia University (Training Center)
Denver Public Health (Training Center)
Johns Hopkins University (Training Center)
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (Training Center)
University of Alabama (Training Center)
University of California, San Francisco (Training Center)
University of Washington (Training Center)
Washington University, St. Louis (Training Center)
The National STD Prevention Training Centers Coordination Center (NPTC3) – Denver Public Health
National STD Curriculum Center – University of Washington
You can learn more about how STD specialty clinics are scaling up HIV prevention services to help end the epidemic in Turning the Page on HIV: New CDC Initiative Fuels Progress in STD Clinics.