HHS’ first national STI plan could face obstacles

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“When left untreated, STIs can lead to long-term, irreversible health issues, such as chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and in some cases, cancer. STIs can also increase a person’s risk of getting or transmitting HIV,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine. “The data we are seeing across the country calls for immediate and sustained action.”

The larger issue extends beyond the U.S. The UK Health Security Agency released data Tuesday showing 2022 had the highest number of cases of gonorrhea and the highest rates of syphilis since 1948.


The new national plan is broken down into five sections and seeks to prevent new infections, reduce adverse outcomes, ramp up STI research, decrease STI disparities and inequities and coordinate epidemic control efforts. It involves coordination between HHS agencies as well as the departments of Defense, Education, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development.

“With the publication of the first-ever STI Federal Implementation Plan, these efforts serve as a call to action for collaboration across sectors in a coordinated national response to STIs.”said Kaye Hayes, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infectious Disease and the director of the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy. 

There are more than 30 types of STIs but the plan focuses on chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and human papillomavirus, citing their higher rates of morbidity. Aside from HPV, these STIs are tracked through the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System and HHS said this data can be used to model efforts to address other STIs.

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