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Culturally-affirming practices increase STI testing / treatment rates. Here’s proof.

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

We all saw so many headlines over the past two pandemic years suggesting we were having less sex. Just have a look at this article from the BBC. According to the piece: Before the pandemic, many couples lived like “two ships passing in the night”, says Houston, Texas-based sex therapist Emily Jamea. Previously overscheduled with out-of-home commitments, some partners found that pandemic-related lockdowns offered a much-needed respite. Being stuck at home let them slow down and take more time for intimate moments together – at first. “Initially, the pandemic gave people the opportunity to… reconnect in a way that maybe previously they were only able to do on vacation,” says Jamea. As the pandemic wore on, however, it began to “take its toll” on intimate relationships, she says. “For the majority of couples, sexual desire kind of took a nosedive.” Studies from around the world tell a similar story. Research conducted in Turkey, Italy, India and the US in 2020 all points to the decline in sex with partners as well as solo acts, directly attributed to lockdown. “I think a big part of the reason for that is because so many people were just too stressed out,” says Justin Lehmiller, social psychologist and research fellow at The Kinsey Institute, which conducted the US-based study. Fair enough — yet, despite this reporting of less sexual activity, STI/STD rates during the pandemic have gone up, according to this CDC-published data. Yet, amidst these seemingly counter-intuitive facts, a bright spot emerged when the question was posed: What would happen to STI-testing rates in the LGBTQ community when culturally affirming care is instituted? According to one study’s findings, published in the July/August, 2020 issue of Annals of Family Medicine: Ten federally qualified health centers were selected to participate in the year-long program. Small care teams were formed at each site, and those teams received coaching, training and facilitation from the program’s staff, much of which was conducted virtually. According to the study summary, By the end of the program, estimated HIV screening of LGBT patients at eight of the reporting sites rose from 14.8 percent to 30.5 percent, with increases in STD screenings as well. Expanded coverage we found on the site,, revealed more impressive results: The researchers found that FQHCs reported increases in culturally affirming practices, including collecting patient pronoun information (42.9 percent increase) and identifying LGBT patient liaisons (300.0 percent increase). Based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) from electronic health records among nine FQHCs, SOGI documentation increased from 13.5 to 50.8 percent of patients. Screening of LGBT patients increased from 22.3 to 34.6 percent for syphilis, from 25.3 to 44.1 percent for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and from 14.8 to 30.5 percent for HIV among the eight FQHCs reporting the number of LGBT patients. So, with STI/STD rates increasing, what can we all learn from the LGBTQ successes to increase testing and treatment? What if we looked at the majority of young people who make up the largest percentage of STI/STD cases as either underserved or under resourced? And what if we instituted culturally affirming care to these members of our communities?

  • Would testing be seen with less stigma?

  • Would we as caregivers understand the burden of a diagnosis alone — and insist on a full program of testing and treatment?

  • Would we look for solutions that remove budgetary burdens for the institution and payment burdens for community members?

At Simple HealthKit, we believe the answer to all these questions is a life-affirming, health-affirming, human-affirming — and culturally-affirming, “yes!” Which is why we’ve created a program for STI/STD testing and treatment that provides massive benefits to community members and caregivers alike:

  1. We make the test part easy — Your community members can choose at-home or on-site-clinic full-service testing option

  2. We get results back, super-fast — We built our own CLIA/CAP certified labs to get all results in under 24 hours and even same day

  3. One-stop test, treatment, medication, even cure — We’ve assembled a full, end-to-end STI solution for you and your patients to get tested AND treated

  4. No one is left behind, financially — We’ve found ways around the expense and will NEVER send a patient to collections

  5. We understand each community and customize our solutions to the unique outreach, engagement and budget considerations of each one

  6. And for you and your budget challenges — We provide on-site staff at no cost and free test packs so you can experience our difference

If you think we might be kindred spirits, we’d be happy to talk. After all, everyone deserves better health. It’s that Simple.

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