WP 143 State STD Policy Trends and the Role of Health Department Public Employees in Educating Policymakers

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
International Ballroom
Hannah Green, MPP, Policy and Communications, National Coalition of STD Directors, Washington, DC and Burke Hays, MPH, Policy and Communications, National Coalition of STD Directors, Washington, DC, DC

Background: Many individuals who work in public health department STD programs report that they are unfamiliar with policies and legislation that can be enacted at the state-level to help prevent and reduce the spread of STDs. Moreover, these public health professionals also indicate that they are unfamiliar with how to safely engage in the legislative process and help educate decision makers about proven STD prevention policies. This presentation aims to address both of these issues.

Methods: This presentation will survey several STD policy issues that have potential for significant public health impact. Policy issues to be covered will include, but are not limited to, expedited partner therapy, distribution of HPV vaccination information and HIV/STD prevention in correctional settings. The presentation will also highlight several strategies utilized by health department public employees across the U.S. to educate about similar policies. Presenters will also highlight resources for health department personnel who wish to learn more about how to maximize STD prevention efforts through policy work.

Results: Public health department employees in Idaho, Hawaii, and Michigan, respectively, have developed educational outreach strategies about the effective STD-reducing policy expedited partner therapy. While these three states are at different stages of implementing their education outreach strategies, they have been highly successful from both process and outcome perspectives. Their work can be used as a template for other states seeking to engage in STD policy work.

Conclusions: Public employees in health departments can work to educate policymakers on sexual health policy in their states. Public employee participation in the legislative process is both feasible and highly successful. A wealth of model language and case studies exist regarding potential STD legislation.