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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention
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Health Issues - STD Program


About the STD Program

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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the U.S. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain STDs in recent years, CDC estimates that 19 million new infections occur in the United States each year, half of them occur among young men and women. In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of STDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs associated with STDs in the U.S. are estimated at $17 billion annually.

Although widespread across the U.S. in all populations, the STD epidemic disproportionately affects certain racial and ethnic groups. Such disparities in STD rates are complex to understand, but may be rooted in a number of social factors such as poverty, inadequate access to health care, lack of education, social inequality, and cultural influences. One group adversely affected by STDs is the American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) population.

Since 1994, CDC has collaborated with the IHS Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention by providing staff, funds, and technical assistance to address the STD prevention needs of AI/AN. This relationship has been and continues to be critical for the development and expansion of STD prevention and care across Indian Country.

Mission:

The mission of the IHS National STD Program, in partnership with American Indian/Alaska Native people, is to raise their physical, mental, social, and spiritual health to the highest level possible through prevention and reduction of sexually transmitted diseases.

Goals:

Our goals are to:
  • Raise awareness of STDs as a high priority health issue.
  • Support partnerships and collaborations with state STD programs, IHS, tribal, urban Indian (I/T/U), and other public health agencies.
  • Support improvement of I/T/U, state, and local STD programs for AI/AN.
  • Increase access to up-to-date STD training for clinicians and public health practitioners.
  • Support and strengthen surveillance systems to monitor STD trends.
  • Promote STD research and identify effective interventions for reducing STD morbidity.
  • Support STD outbreak response efforts.
  • Support integration of STD/HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis prevention and control activities.