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Home Sexual Health Sexual Health On the Agenda: ASHA Advocates for Sound STI Policy

On the Agenda: ASHA Advocates for Sound STI Policy

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President-elect Obama will have the opportunity to advance a public health agenda that can make a profound difference in the lives and health of women, men, and families in the United States. Greater investments in sexual and reproductive health can improve health and reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

For too long, our nation’s health care policies have failed to address adequately sexual and reproductive health.  Skyrocketing costs, inadequate funding and ideologically driven public policies have fueled STI rates. This failure has led to persistent health disparities, including those based on income, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Herpes rates are emblematic of the racial and gender disparities in health care. 

A change in administrations does more than determine who will live in the White House. ASHA and other public health advocates are hopeful that President-elect Obama’s commitment to change will result in a new, commonsense and evidence-based approach to the nation’s pressing sexual health issues.  

The American Social Health Association has joined with other national organizations to provide a sexual and reproductive health policy vision for the new Administration. For many years, ASHA has maintained a policy office in Washington and worked in partnership with other organizations in the area of sexual and reproductive health to advocate for sound, science-based policies regarding sexual health and sexually transmitted infections. ASHA’s vice president of health policy, Deborah Arrindell, has worked with other organizations in the sexual health field to advocate for increased funding for STI programs and raise the visibility of STI issues in Congress.

Most recently, Arrindell participated in the Blueprint Transition Coalition, a group of organizations working together to develop a legislative, regulatory and leadership agenda for the first one hundred days of the new administration and beyond. Through collaboration, three priorities were identified regarding STI prevention: 1) increase the budget of the STD program at the CDC; 2) increase the budget of the CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health program; and 3) renew the Surgeon General’s Call to Action for Responsible Sexual Behavior.  

In early December, ASHA and reproductive health groups met with Melody Barnes, Co-chair of the Obama Agency Review Transition Team and soon to be White House Domestic Policy Advisor, to discuss sexual and reproductive health issues. Barnes reiterated the President-elect’s plan to examine all policies governing the U.S. and global assistance to ensure that public policy in this arena is evidence-based.

Not only will evidence-based research be used to broadly address the aforementioned public health issues, it will also be used to address health disparities, according to published positions from the Obama campaign.  

There is little information on the potential impact of a change in administration on those with or who have loved ones with genital herpes. However, we remain guardedly optimistic.

We remain hopeful that budgets for prevention will be increased and renewal of the call to action and the priorities it outlines will be beneficial for all including those with genital herpes. Hopeful that increased funding will assist in efforts to increase herpes research and awareness of this STI. Hopeful too that science-based policies with help raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding not just genital herpes but other sexually transmitted infections as well.


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