Category Archives: research

NACCHO Highlights Need for Greater Support for Local Health Departments to Combat Rise in STDs

STD Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), also referred to as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), with local health departments and with local and national policymakers, stakeholders, and the public. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the voice of the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments is working diligently to support their members’ work to address rising STD rates across the country and to implement innovative projects, such as its Express STI Visits Initiative, to provide new ways to link individuals to testing and treatment.

“Local health departments work hard every day to reduce STD rates and improve health outcomes in their communities by testing for, treating, and ultimately, preventing STDs. This includes strong prevention and treatment messaging, as well as the essential work of disease intervention specialists (DIS) who are on the frontlines of efforts to disrupt the spread of STDs and prevent outbreaks,” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman. “But as NACCHO’s research shows, they need more support—stagnant or decreasing resources are not enough, and local health departments and their partners need more resources to address these rapidly rising STD rates.”

While STD rates are quickly increasing, federal, state, and local resources have stayed the same or decreased, leaving public health systems strained, including local health departments. In 2017, NACCHO queried its HIV, STI, and Viral Hepatitis Sentinel Network and found that nearly one-third of local health departments reported anticipating budget cuts in the next fiscal year and the majority experiencing stagnant funding for STD programs at best.

As the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) STD Surveillance Report shows, STD rates increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2017, and there has been a steep, sustained increases in the incidence of all three reportable STDs.

Gonorrhea diagnoses increased by almost 70% percent overall and nearly doubled among men. Increases in diagnoses among women — and the speed with which they are increasing — are also concerning, with cases going up for the third year in a row.

Primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased 76%. Congenital syphilis (transmitted from the pregnant person to the fetus) cases rose sharply with 918 cases in 2017, a number that has more than doubled since 2013. This included 64 reported stillbirths as a result of congenital syphilis (up from 41 in 2016).

Chlamydia remained the most common condition reported to CDC. More than 1.7 million cases were diagnosed in 2017, with 45% of cases among 15- to 24-year-old females. The preliminary data for 2018 sadly shows these trends continuing and a new CDC analysis suggests that gay and bisexual men are at higher risk for extragenital STDs (e.g. chlamydia or gonorrhea in the throat or rectum), which increases treatment difficulty, drug resistance, and the risk of HIV infection. While these STDs are treatable, if untreated, they can cause serious health consequences such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and stillbirth.

Throughout STD Awareness Month, NACCHO is highlighting each of CDC’s four STD Awareness campaigns: Syphilis Strikes Back, GYT: Get Yourself Tested, Treat Me Right, and Talk. Test. Treat. New blog posts are available each Thursday of April and will feature work that local health departments and NACCHO are doing around the country to address STDs.

For more information, read about our STD work and check out our STD policy statement.

Recognizing the Importance of NACCHO’s Profile Study to Public Health

By JP Leider, Senior Lecturer at the University of Minnesota, Associate Faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and independent consultant based out of Minneapolis, MN

As NACCHO’s Profile Study returns to the field, I’ve decided to share a reminder of its importance to public health and thank practitioners.

The field of governmental public health is a complicated one. Between our state, local, territorial, and tribal health departments, there are something like 3,000 agencies devoted to the promotion and protection of population health. As someone who studies and works to support those organizations, large-scale datasets that enumerate their activities and characteristics are absolutely critical. I recognize big datasets don’t always sound like the most exciting things in the world. But these datasets, like NACCHO’s National Profile of Local Health Departments (Profile) Study, help us project workforce shortages, keep up with Electronic Health Record uptake at local health departments (LHDs), and figure out just how much the nation is spending on public health and whether it is worth it (spoiler: it is). Continue reading

Results from NACCHO’s 2018 Member Satisfaction Survey

Earlier this year, NACCHO launched the Member Satisfaction Survey in support of our commitment to continuous quality improvement. Nearly 450 members responded to the survey to share their perspectives about the ways in which NACCHO can continue working toward our vision of optimal health, equity, and security for all people in all communities. Results from the survey found that NACCHO has been a valuable resource for local health departments nationwide. Three highlights from the survey findings include: Continue reading

The 2018 Forces of Change in America’s Local Public Health System

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has released its 2018 Forces of Change report containing new findings on the forces that are affecting the nation’s local health departments (LHDs). LHDs face both challenges and opportunities as the public health environment evolves, and NACCHO has periodically surveyed LHDs to assess the impact of this changing environment on LHD budgets, programs, and workforce. Topics included in the 2018 Forces of Change focused on changes in LHD budget and workforce capacity, response to opioid use and abuse, population health activities, influenza preparedness and response, informatics capacity, and environmental health activities. Visit NACCHO’s Forces of Change webpage to read the full report. Continue reading

Understanding the Changing Public Health Landscape: Findings from the 2017 Forces of Change Survey

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has released its 2017 Forces of Change report, The Changing Public Health Landscape, containing new findings on the forces that are affecting the nation’s local health departments (LHDs). LHDs face both challenges and opportunities as the public health environment evolves, and the Forces of Change survey helps to identify infrastructure gaps, as well as strategies for strengthening public health capacity. Continue reading

The Changing Public Health Landscape: Findings from the 2015 Forces of Change Survey

2015-forces-of-changeBy Sarah Newman, MPH, Research and Evaluation Analyst, NACCHO

NACCHO has released the 2015 Forces of Change survey containing new findings on the forces that affect change in our nation’s local health departments (LHDs). Results show LHDs face challenges and opportunities as the public health and clinical care environments evolve.

Highlights
LHDs continue to experience budgetary challenges. Almost one-fourth of LHDs (23%) reported a lower budget in 2014 than the prior fiscal year and more (27%) expect budget cuts to continue into the next fiscal year. Continue reading