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Title X and The Role of Family Planning Providers in Preventing and Treating Sexually Transmitted Infections

10:02 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Clare Coleman for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This article is published in partnership with the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) as part of our joint series on STD Awareness

Over the past 40 years, Title X family planning providers have played a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income and uninsured individuals. Screening, testing, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are key components of the essential health education and services provided by family planning providers each year. In 2010, the Title X family planning network performed over 6 million STD tests, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year, and over 1.1 million HIV tests, a 10 percent increase over 2009. Family planning and sexual health programs have a tremendous amount of expertise in targeting “hard-to-reach” populations, particularly through education and counseling.

Family planning providers have long understood the role sexual health plays in the lifelong health and well-being of their patients. Suspected of being the number one cause of preventable infertility, chlamydia – a curable infection – is the most common bacterial STD in the US, with an estimated 2.8 million infections annually. Annual US gonorrhea infections are estimated to be as high as 700,000 a year. If left untreated, both infections can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID and other infections in the upper genital tract can cause damage leading to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy.

Recognizing the important role publicly funded family planning providers can and do play in STD prevention, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports chlamydia and gonorrhea prevention efforts in family planning health centers through the Infertility Prevention Project (IPP). Begun as a demonstration project in 1988 to address the leading STD-based causes of infertility, IPP has expanded to all ten of the federal Health and Human Service regions, supporting screening and treatment among sexually-active, low-income women.

CDC estimates that undiagnosed and untreated STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea cause at least 24,000 women in the US each year to become infertile. In addition to the health burdens that result from chlamydia and gonorrhea, chlamydia in particular has severe economic costs within the health care system. Over $2 billion is spent every year on the medical management of chlamydia and related complications. The total lifetime medical cost has been estimated at $315 per case for women. Furthermore, a single case of PID costs between $1,060 and $3,180 (in 2000 dollars).

To ensure quality sexual and reproductive health and address economic burdens, continued efforts to educate, screen, test, and treat for STDs is critical to our nation’s public health and well-being. The Title X family planning network is proud to be an essential safety-net provider in these efforts to improve access for populations that may have nowhere else to turn for these services.

The Cancerous Politics and Ideology of the Susan G. Komen Foundation

8:44 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

(image: screenshot by ee382, photobucket)

(image: screenshot by ee382, photobucket)

Written by Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This week it became clear there are things more important to the Susan G. Komen Foundation–the fundraising giant that each year during breast cancer awareness month virtually swathes the United States in pink, a la Christo–than ensuring women are able to access exams for early detection of breast cancer.

What could be more important to an organization ostensibly dedicated to the elimination of breast cancer? Answer: The politics and personal agendas of the organization’s senior staff and board, both of which have been infiltrated by right-wing ideologues and both of which were instrumental in a decision to deny further support from Komen affiliates to Planned Parenthood clinics that provide breast exams. In fact, it is now clear that Komen has been infiltrated at various levels by anti-choicers willing to actually sacrifice women to breast cancer to satisfy their own agendas.

Nationwide, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses provide nearly 750,000 breast cancer screenings annually, offering risk assessments, breast exams, breast health information and education, and diagnostic and surgical referrals. Over the past five years, Planned Parenthood health centers have conducted nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams with funds from Komen, out of a total of more than four million clinical breast exams performed nationwide by Planned Parenthood clinics. Komen grants also supported more than 6,400 out of 70,000 mammogram referrals made by Planned Parenthood.

A large share of the clients served at Planned Parenthood clinics are low-income African-American and Latina women. The National Cancer Institute identifies lack of access to early and effective screening for breast cancer (and hence lack of early treatment) as a primary reason that African American and Latina women die of breast cancer at higher rates than the general population. In fact, Komen itself recognized these links in a 2011 statement on its relationship with Planned Parenthood:

While Komen Affiliates provide funds to pay for screening, education and treatment programs in dozens of communities, in some areas, the only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive these services are through programs run by Planned Parenthood.

Komen further stated:

These facilities serve rural women, poor women, Native American women, women of color, and the un- and under-insured. As part of our financial arrangements, we monitor our grantees twice a year to be sure they are spending the money in line with our agreements, and we are assured that Planned Parenthood uses these funds only for breast health education, screening and treatment programs.

As long as there is a need for health care for these women, Komen Affiliates will continue to fund the facilities that meet that need.

But apparently those women no longer matter as Komen’s support has now been withdrawn. Read the rest of this entry →