Although the COVID-19 pandemic has the world's attention, the CDC is continuing work on several unrelated projects that are designed to improve the nation's health.
One of these projects is set to kick off in less than two weeks. The CDC is designating April 12-18 as STD Awareness Week,(www.cdc.gov) a timely spotlight, as the agency's reports show that cases of sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have continued to tick upward in recent years.(www.cdc.gov)
Because family physicians often serve as the first point of contact for patients who have an STD, they need to remain vigilant in educating patients about these types of infections. In fact, last year the Academy published a sexually transmitted infection screening practice manual and a sexual history guidance document designed to help FPs address these issues with patients.
In previous years, all of April served as STD Awareness Month, but Gail Bolan, M.D., director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention, explained in a Feb. 3 letter to colleagues(www.cdc.gov) that the shorter time frame doesn't change the program's objectives.
"While the timing is shifting, our goals for the new STD Awareness Week remain the same: Raise awareness about STDs and how they impact our lives; ensure people have the tools and knowledge to prevent, test for and timely treat STDs; and break down the STD-related barriers of stigma, fear and discrimination," Bolan wrote.
"While STD Awareness Week provides us a yearly opportunity to unify our voices, it certainly isn't the only time to share our message or hold testing events. STDs impact people daily, not just during a certain week or month, so let's encourage prevention and testing year-round," Bolan continued.
This year, STD Awareness Week consists of four distinct campaigns:
- GYT: Get Yourself Tested(www.cdc.gov) encourages young people to protect their health by getting tested (and treated, if necessary) for STDs and HIV infection.
- Talk. Test. Treat.(www.cdc.gov) emphasizes that STDs are preventable and treatable, and encourages health care professionals and patients to take those three actions to protect their own health and others'.
- Syphilis Strikes Back(www.cdc.gov) raises awareness of the disease and focuses on prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
- Treat Me Right(www.cdc.gov) highlights the value of strong physician-patient relationships in ensuring that patients stay healthy.
Each campaign page contains a host of materials FPs can use, including sample social media posts and graphics optimized for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The STD Awareness Week site also contains a general resources section(www.cdc.gov) that includes downloadable fact sheets, brochures and other patient materials.
Finally, the CDC has created an STD Awareness Week toolkit(www.cdc.gov) that allows health care professionals to choose the campaign that interests them, plan their activities and evaluate the campaign's effectiveness.
Academy members can also access the AAFP's own resources on the topic that were developed specifically with family physicians in mind.