Developing the STI Federal Action Plan
What Is Happening with the STI Federal Action Plan?
The development of the STI Federal Action Plan (STI Plan) is underway. The Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) (part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) has convened an STI Federal Steering Committee. The steering committee is composed of 20 federal agencies and offices including the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs, to guide the development of the plan. The STI Federal Steering Committee meets monthly and is working on the STI Plan’s goals, strategies, and action steps. The plan will be grounded in the latest science and epidemiological data to improve the effectiveness of our federal response and will focus on the four most common STIs that have the greatest health impact in the US: chlamydia; gonorrhea syphilis and human papillomavirus (HPV). Cross-cutting issues expected to be addressed include:
- Integration with other infectious diseases such as HIV and viral hepatitis
- Stigma and discrimination
- Disparities, and
- Social determinants of health.
How Is a Federal Action Plan Different from a National Strategic Plan?
This STI Plan is the first-ever STI plan from the federal government and will lay the foundation to guide federal agencies in strengthening the federal response to STIs. Focusing on the federal response to the STI epidemics is an important step to align the efforts of federal programs and achieve a more coordinated response to reduce STI morbidity, stigma and disparities, and improve STI outcomes. Even though the STI Plan is directed at federal partners, OIDP expects that the actionable national-level strategies will also be helpful and used by non-federal partners including providers, schools, community-based and faith-based partners, advocates, researchers, and other stakeholders. Everyone has a role to play in reducing STIs. We encourage partners and stakeholders in all sectors and at all levels to support this work to improve the health of all Americans.
How Does the Public Provide Input?
Stakeholder and public input is integral to the development of the STI Federal Action Plan. From March to June, OIDP and the STI Federal Steering Committee sought public input through a series of listening sessions and published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register. OIDP hosted two national virtual listening sessions via webinar with more than 1,000 participants, and conducted four in-person sessions at national-level meetings and conferences. Commenters included health care providers and systems; state, tribal and local health departments; professional organizations; community-based and faith-based organizations; schools, researchers; advocates; and any persons whose lives had been affected by STIs were all encouraged to provide input on the plan. All of this valuable input was analyzed and shared with the STI Federal Steering Committee.
Read more about the public input provided in these blog posts:
- Stakeholders and the Public Weigh In on the Nation’s First STI Federal Action Plan
- Tribal Public Health Stakeholders Share Input on National Strategies for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and STIs
- Participants at CDC’s National HIV Prevention Conference Weigh In on Next National HIV and Viral Hepatitis Strategies, Developing a Federal STD Plan
Why STI Instead of STD?
The STI Federal Action Plan seeks to embrace a more holistic prevention framework and remove the stigma and shame that have been long associated with STIs. As a first step, the steering committee decided to use the term “sexually transmitted infection” (STI) rather than “sexually transmitted disease” (STD). Infections are precursors to symptomatic disease, and many common STIs do not have signs or symptoms and do not reach a state of disease.1 This is true of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and human papillomavirus (HPV). Using the term STI provides an opportunity to emphasize the often asymptomatic nature of STIs and focus efforts on preventing and treating infections that can lead to disease.2 Many prominent sexual health organizations have already shifted to using STI rather than STD.3 Some research suggests that the STI terminology evokes less stigma and is a more holistic and upstream approach to prevention.2
When Will the STI Plan Be Released?
The STI Federal Action Plan is expected to be released in 2020.
1 Handsfield H. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Infections, and Disorders: What’s in a Name? Sex Transm Dis 2015; 42(4): pp 168-169.
2 Reitmeijer C. You Say STD.... Sex Transm Dis 2015; 42(9): p469.
3 Lederer AM, Laing EE. What’s in a name? Perceptions of the terms sexually transmitted disease and sexually transmitted infection among late adolescents. Sex Transm Dis 2017:44(11): pp 707-711.