Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, ASTHO’s new Senior Vice President of Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives, wraps up her first week on the job; Julia Greenspan, ASTHO’s Senior Analyst for Infectious Diseases, debuts a new set of tools to help...
Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, ASTHO’s new Senior Vice President of Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives, wraps up her first week on the job; Julia Greenspan, ASTHO’s Senior Analyst for Infectious Diseases, debuts a new set of tools to help public health teams reduce STIs; and ASTHO offers two resources to aid states and territories supporting COVID-19 contact tracing programs in schools.
This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Friday, October 8th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.
Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
The first week is in the books for ASTHO's new senior vice president of health equity and diversity initiatives.
Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge outlines plans for her first 90 days on the job,
I have a way that I tend to work.
The first step is always to listen and to really understand the definition that we're working with around equity from the internal and the external. Step two is to learn, and that means to take a really a deep dive into what has already been put in place, the foundations that have been set. And then, step three is to act, and that's around consensus building to identify common grounds as a starting point—I call that organizational ethos.
And once that is done, then it's about working through the differences in a way where everyone has a voice and there is respect for differences and, with that, formalizing a plan that moves the organization and its member states and territories in a direction that has a unified goal.
ASTHO has developed a new set of tools for teams working to reduce STIs in their states and territories. They're explained in a training now online.
ASTHO senior analyst for infectious diseases, Julia Greenspan, gives us the details about the training in today's morning conversation.
What is the goal of this training?
The training is designed to help state health departments address sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. The most recent data that we have is that new cases of STIs have reached record breaking numbers for the sixth straight year—one in five people in the U.S. has an STI.
We also know that certain populations are disproportionately impacted by STIs, and STIs has represented a huge financial burden, leading to almost $16 billion in direct medical costs. We don't have complete data for 2020 yet, but we do think that COVID likely led to STIs being undiagnosed and underreported.
So, these trainings help to identify new and innovative approaches to prevent, identify, and treat STIs.
What about the content do you think will be helpful to people who do this work across the states and territories?
First, STIs are an issue in every jurisdiction, so the tools are relevant across the country and the territories.
Second, the tools cover a variety of topics, including innovative approaches for treating STIs, congenital syphilis, identifying the best usage of STI resources, and sharing how to increase at-home and walk-in access to STI and HIV testing.
And finally, the tools are designed so you can sit down and complete each course in less than 15 minutes—state health departments can view the tools and walk away with the needed information to begin implementing these strategies in their own state.
How can training like this equip teams to better address STIs in their communities?
The tools outline how you can take a big problem like growing STI rates and create a comprehensive plan for prevention, identification, and treatment.
While all of the featured projects were complex and some took over a year for the jurisdictions to complete, the tools themselves are short and easily digestible; so, in just a few minutes, teams can learn unique and multifaceted approaches that they can take back to their jurisdictions to address rising STI rates.
Finally this morning, schools are teaching kids again, but they're also hoping contact tracing can help them stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ASTHO has developed two resources on the topic: the first summarizes CDC guidance to support contact tracing in K-12 schools; the second tells how ASTHO members can work with schools to improve the process.
Find links to both resource documents, along with a link to the STI prevention and treatment micro-learning, in the show notes.
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We're off Monday for the holiday, but we'll be back Tuesday morning with more ASTHO news and information.
I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.