November 19, 2019

CONTACT: Johan Marulanda /

November 19, 2019, WASHINGTON, D.C. | Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise in the United States. From 2013 to 2017, there was a 22% increase in chlamydia cases, a 67% increase in gonorrhea cases, and an 80% increase in cases of syphilis. While great strides have been made in promoting the health of people living with HIV and preventing new HIV infections, more can be done to enhance STI prevention, screening, and treatment. In a new brief, Big Ideas: HIV Prevention and Care Systems Have Critical Roles in Addressing Sexually Transmitted Infections, policy experts provide strategies on using HIV programs to contribute to a stronger public health response in the face of increasing STI rates.

Brief authors, Jeffrey S. Crowley, Director of Infectious Disease Initiatives at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, and Sean Bland, Senior Associate at the O’Neill Institute, identify increased program collaboration, at the client-level, between HIV and STI programs as key to combatting the crisis.

“We have greatly increased knowledge of HIV status through extensive community and clinical HIV screening programs over many years,” said Crowley. “HIV-STI screening should become the default practice. When we screen for HIV, we also should be screening for bacterial STIs.” To help ensure this practice becomes reality, the authors call for new goals for HIV-STI screening integration and for national quality measures, such as HEDIS and National Quality Forum measures, to be aligned with STI screening recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors also strongly recommend that HIV and STI programs jointly adopt best practices for promoting sexual health, especially for communities that are at higher-risk. “To improve the health of all Americans, strategies are needed to better serve communities at higher risk for STIs, including adolescents and young adults, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, women of childbearing age, and racial and ethnic minorities,” said Bland.

Additionally, research is key to strengthening the public health response to STIs. The authors call for existing HIV surveillance and research programs to do more to understand STI transmission.

This project is supported by a grant from Gilead Sciences, Inc. Gilead Sciences, Inc. has had no input into the development or content of this policy brief. This brief was informed by a stakeholder consultation held in February 2019.

The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center is the premier center for health law, scholarship, and policy. Its mission is to contribute to a more powerful and deeper understanding of the multiple ways in which law can be used to improve the public’s health, using objective evidence as a measure. The O’Neill Institute seeks to advance scholarship, science, research, and teaching that will encourage key decision-makers in the public, private, and civil society to employ the law as a positive tool for enabling more people in the United States and throughout the world to lead healthier lives.