$400 Million to Prevent STIs – Wasteful?

The Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives announced their idea of what is wasteful in the recently House approved stimulus bill.
On the list? A proposal for the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention to get $400 million for increased screening and prevention
efforts around sexually transmitted infections (while listed as STD’s
in the Republican list, the appropriate medical term is no longer
disease, but infection).

This is a drop in the proverbial bucket in terms of this nearly
trillion dollar bill. Yet there it is, along with $75 million for
stopping smoking programs.

This move by Republicans to identify this funding has some activists
in the sexual health community concerned. I contacted Planned
Parenthood of Mid-Michigan about this; CEO Lori Lammerand said:

“At Planned Parenthood, we support Congress and their
efforts to create an effective Stimulus Bill that focuses on job
creation and retention, something we desperately need here in Michigan.
We understand the need to compromise on health proposals in the bill
that don’t stimulate the economy. However, keeping people healthy by
funding STD testing and other prevention policies will help offset the
cost of this nearly trillion dollar stimulus bill. We hope Congress
will adopt commonsense policies that prevent unintended pregnancies and
the spread of STDs and HIV, which will ultimately save millions of
dollars in health care costs.”

Other sexual health advocates, including a large national coalition
of HIV groups, are rallying to support this provision. Does it at first
seem silly to have this spending in an economic stimulus package
designed to provide jobs and kick start the economy? Sure at first,
until you realize that prevention of smoking increases worker
productivity because they are less sick, and preventing STIs has the
bonus effect of preventing unplanned pregnancy, saving millions more in
spending in healthcare.

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  • invalid-0

    Will the $400 million also sustain jobs that may otherwise be lost? Why can’t we use the money to create jobs to do active HIV/STI prevention through local and state initiatives? Do we know how the $400M will be spent?

  • invalid-0

    Yes, Katrina, this will generate jobs. In fact, it’s all about jobs. The very jobs that are essential to community health but have sadly, tragically be neglected for decades. Jobs like community health educators, HIV/STI screeners, program managers, evaluators, counselors, and the list goes on and on. The money would also help dilapidated health departments across the country improve their facilities (including labs), add medical equipment, upgrade software and hardware, and get online (some for the very first time). This is legitimate economic activities and as valid as creating jobs in teaching, police, and construction. But of course if we don’t value public health and recognize the importance of a strong public health sector, Congress will continue to demonize public health and community health WORK. Without such an investment, we won’t achieve better health outcomes in the U.S. but at least we’ll have really great roads and bridges.

    Learn more at: http://www.aidschicago.org/pdf/2009/HHSWatch_2009%2002.pdf