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Community Health Workers; Sexually Transmitted Infections


Rates of bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States are high and, largely, still soaring. Though chlamydia cases have decreased slightly since 2017, gonorrhea and syphilis have increased by 25% and 68%, respectively, and congenital syphilis has increased by 184%. Bacterial STI can lead to pain, infertility, and even, in the case of syphilis and congenital syphilis, death. With appropriate detection and treatment, all of these STIs are curable. And yet a range of barriers between communities and the healthcare system perpetuate the STI epidemic.

Community health workers (CHWs) could play a key role in helping bridge the gap between the public health and healthcare systems and communities to provide STI education, prevention, detection and treatment services. The Medicaid program, which covers 89 million Americans, is slowly beginning to include CHWs into payment models. However, to date, CHWs’ potential to help address STIs has not been fully explored. This study was undertaken to identify ways that CHWs could be integrated into the STI field with the support of Medicaid coverage and in collaboration with the existing STI workforce.


The authors would like to thank all of the experts who participated in interviews for this project (please see Appendix A for full list). This report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

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