Washington: Public Health Shifts STD Focus From Testing to Tracking

Due to budget cuts caused by the recession, the Snohomish Health District's clinic in Everett advises that "STD clinic services are no longer available." The STD clinic used to offer testing and treatment, but now SHD has placed its hopes on private partners picking up the slack. The district has scaled back the clinic's services to HIV testing only, STD case follow-up, and partner notification.

"We are intervening on the spread of the disease by making sure they get treated and their subsequent partners aren't coming into contact with the disease and spreading it," Jordan Bower, an STD investigator, told a recent community board of health meeting.

Bower said she is noticing two major trends. Of her clients, 90 percent are young women, and chlamydia and syphilis diagnoses are rising. In the urban areas of Western Washington, syphilis infections have increased 17 percent over the last two years, and the chlamydia rate is up 11 percent. Those most affected by chlamydia were females ages 15-19.

Last year, SHD administered over 500 HIV tests, and eight people total were HIV-positive. Starting this month, anyone who tests HIV-positive will be referred to the Evergreen AIDS Foundation for case management. STD screening can be accessed at Planned Parenthood, Providence Everett Medical, Sea Mar/Marysville Clinic, or the South Everett Community Health Center.