Annual Cases of STIs Continue to Climb; Arizona Among Most Affected States
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Title X (Ten) health centers across the state are using a $300,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to increase screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea for females 14-24 years old and syphilis screenings for men and women 34 years of age and younger.
The five-year grant comes at a time when the number of annual STI cases continues to climb across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a nearly 30 percent rise in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis between 2015 and 2019. The sharpest increase was in cases of syphilis among newborns, which nearly quadrupled during that four-year period.
AFHP-funded health centers across the state provide low or no-cost syphilis testing and treatment to all clients. Additional funding is provided for uninsured male and female clients ages 34 and younger through the STI Screening Project, a collaboration with ADHS.
In Arizona, the CDC reports that congenital syphilis cases, which are passed from mother to baby, rose more than sevenfold from 2016 to 2020, making Arizona the second worst in the nation during that period. Nationally during that time, congenital syphilis cases increased about 3.5 times.
For STIs generally, Arizona’s rates rose faster and higher for syphilis and gonorrhea. Chlamydia rates fell slightly, although its rate of cases was well over the national rate. The state’s case rates ranked 15th for both gonorrhea and chlamydia in 2020 and sixth for primary and secondary syphilis, the two earliest stages of the disease.
“Having greater access to testing leads to greater opportunities to treat STIs,” said AFHP CEO Bré Thomas. “Having access to medically accurate information and educational materials about STIs can lead to more informed decisions about sexual activity and the unintended risks that may result.”
AFHP also owns and operates www.SEXfyi.org® offering complete, medically based information about contraceptive methods and adolescent rights as well as a health center locator. SEXfyi.org® allows clients to easily connect to care.
“At Affirm, our purpose is to create a future where everyone has the trust, support and information to choose what’s best for them,” Thomas said. “That’s why we make sexual and reproductive healthcare accessible to everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from.”