Washington: STD Programs Lose Funding -- Health District Cuts Money for Education, Testing
October 29, 2007
Despite rising STD and HIV diagnoses locally, shortfalls in the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) budget led board members on Thursday to reduce services, including those for HIV and STDs. Overall, $200,000 in services were removed from the district's $22.5 million budget.
Federal and state revenue cuts, rising employee benefit and salary costs, and cost-of-living increases were all factors that hit the budget, which is 1.4 percent lower than the 2007 plan. Proposed cuts were not made public before the board approved them. In the future, the budget process should include public feedback, said board members Brad Stark and Todd Mielke, who said they were responding to public criticism.
Among the cuts made were $50,000 for a male STD testing program that saw about 400 clients a year and $20,000 for an HIV/AIDS education program. That program targeted women in the Pine Lodge minimum-security prison and juveniles in detention.
The rationale for the cuts was that the services offered are provided elsewhere in the community. Among other clinics, the Community Health Association of Spokane and Planned Parenthood offer testing and education.
"We're going to let the providers do what they do best and we're doing what we do best, which is to follow up on individual cases," said Lyndia Vold, SRHD's disease and prevention response director. Vold acknowledged the cuts are being made amid rising incidences of STD and HIV infections. "Part of what we're hoping to do now is targeted screening," said Susan Sjoberg, an SRHD program manager.
In the first nine months of this year, there were 21 new HIV cases in Spokane County, up from 15 last year. There have been 10 syphilis cases in the county so far in 2007, compared with three last year. Gonorrhea cases have increased to 124 from 72 last year. And chlamydia cases have also risen from 833 last year to 873.
10.26.2007; Jonel Aleccia
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.