Background: Community-based clinics are important in increasing the accessibility and availability of STI testing and treatment services during non-traditional times and venues. Many providers lack the resources to bridge service gaps where deserts of health inequity exist among underserved populations. Public and private partnerships and integrated STD prevention services are necessary to build capacity among community-based providers.
Methods: The Empowerment Resource Center (ERC) Comprehensive Intervention Clinic offers STI prevention education programs, counseling, testing, and treatment services and primary care linkages which target underserved, vulnerable, and high-risk populations. By leveraging resources and integrating programs and services, ERC enhanced the availability and accessibility of STI testing services in Atlanta, Georgia. Metrics were developed and collected to evaluate the impact of program collaboration and service integration on the provision of STI testing and treatment services.
Results: During 2012, ERC incorporated Syphilis testing into its existing repertoire of services (HIV testing; Chlamydia and Gonorrhea urine NAAT). Within an 18-month period, ERC added on-site treatment for infected clients and the collection of oral, rectal, and genital specimens, significantly increasing the number of unduplicated clients served. During this period, new services were added—Bacterial Vaginosis, Hepatitis C, Herpes, Trichomonas—making STI testing and treatment services more accessible and available to clients.
Conclusions: Through collaborative agreements with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Fulton DeKalb Hospital Authority, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, ERC expanded its array of services and enhanced the comprehensive continuum of care for clients. Leveraging resources and building community capacity can improve STI detection and prevention and increase treatment options in urban areas. In this time of shrinking resources and competing priorities, taking a long view of the interrelatedness between STI programs, services, and resources is essential to sustaining community-based clinical services.