Written by Anne Trolard, MPH, center manager of the Public Health Data & Training Center at the Institute for Public Health
Sexual health is now a regional priority for St. Louis, as identified by the regional coalition, St. Louis Partnership for a Healthy Community. Rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continue to increase in St. Louis as well as nationally, while public health funding continues to decline.
Missouri’s congenital syphilis rates have increased 218 percent (from 2012-2018) and St. Louis experiences chronically high rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Addressing sexual health in our region will require a unified, coordinated, and collaborative approach. Washington University’s Institute for Public Health aims to play its part as a convener and supporter of research, dialogue, and planning.
The Institute supports Dr. Hilary Reno as the lead for a provider-based coalition to lower the region’s STI rates through collaboration, education, and evidence-based practice. The St. Louis Sexually Transmitted Infection Regional Response (STIRR) Coalition also serves as the backbone for the Sexual Health Action Team for the St. Louis Partnership for a Healthy Community.
Dr. Reno’s research has focused on utilization of STI-related care in local emergency departments and the research team has recently published their results in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine and Sexually Transmitted Disease. You can also read more about these publications on the Public Health Data & Training Center’s Projects page.
The Institute for Public Health recently hosted the event, Next Steps in Sexual Health: Identifying Barriers and Opportunities for the St. Louis Region, which brought together sexual health providers, advocates, schools and researchers to advance existing efforts and elevate conversations about barriers and opportunities for sexual well-being in St. Louis region. A report detailing those barriers and opportunities, as well as four recommendations for moving forward, is now available.
Voiced repeatedly at the meeting was a vision for a stigma-free, patient-centered and comprehensive sexual healthcare system, and one that ensures increased testing and access for all. In order to achieve this vision, the report outlines four next steps:
- Active & ongoing listening to patients
- Cooperative discussion and planning
- Real-time regional data sharing
- Innovation in the provision of sexual health care
Moving forward, the Institute for Public Health will continue to collaborate with the St. Louis Partnership for a Healthy Community and its Sexual Health Action Team to tackle these challenges.