ST LOUIS, MO (STL.News) The City of St. Louis is among four jurisdictions across the country that will be receiving direct funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement community approaches to address sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Direct funding to local jurisdictions from the CDC is an exception to the rule. Most funding from federal agencies is awarded to state agencies and then passed along to local jurisdictions. The direct funding from the CDC that the City will be receiving is coming from a program called Community Approaches to Reducing Sexually Transmitted Diseases (CARS). The award will be $933,121.00 over a three year period.
“The CARS award will allow us to focus on a segment of our population that’s in need,” says Mayor Lyda Krewson. “Although, STDs affect persons of all racial, cultural, socioeconomic, and religious beliefs, currently in our city these illnesses disproportionately burden the health of young African American men aged 18 – 29. We’ll use this funding to focus on that population.”
Stigma, clinic closures, lack of culturally sensitive and trauma informed service providers, lack of or improper condom use, poverty, drug use, and unstable living conditions are some of the determinants of health that have kept the St. Louis metropolitan area near or at the top of federal rankings for poor sexual health outcomes. Missouri STD rates have increased every year for the past three years. In 2019, St. Louis City cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis made up one third of Missouri’s total cases.
“While managing and responding to COVID-19, I felt it essential to ensure the City of St. Louis Department of Health did not forget or lose sight of preexisting issues that continue to negatively impact the health of our population. Our CARS funding will be used to address some of the determinants of sexual and reproductive health” says Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the City of St. Louis. “The health department’s leadership is dedicated to bringing resources to the City of St. Louis and St. Louis Region that will facilitate systemic change using approaches that support the achievement of health and racial equity.”
To achieve the goals of this project, the City of St. Louis Department of Health will partner with academic institutions, STD service providers and grassroots organizations to promote STD/HIV care at a system level using a racial equity lens to create sustainable change. “The collaborative approach of the City’s CARS program will be essential to make inroads into reducing STDs in the metro area,” said Erise Williams, CEO of Williams and Associates, a community-based organization addressing minority heath disparities.