What is it about?

The outbreak of COVID-19 caused public health personnel and resources to be diverted from their original postings. The focus turned to the treatment of patients and containment of the pandemic. As a result, medical attention normally given to other diseases suffered. This paper investigates the setback that this resource diversion had on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) programs. Researchers compared the reporting of cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis before and after the initial COVID-19 outbreak in California. They found a significant decline in reported cases of all STDs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduced staffing, lack of test kits, and social distancing norms, along with shortages in protective equipment may have limited the diagnosis of STDs.

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Why is it important?

Public health programs for the prevention and control of other communicable diseases have not been able to sustain themselves because of this lack of resources. It is, therefore, necessary to analyze the public health impact of these diseases that go undiagnosed. The diminished function of STD programs could increase the risk of STD transmission, especially from persons who have not yet been diagnosed with an STD. KEY TAKEAWAY: Reduced reporting of STD cases and delays in treatment might result in increased morbidity. Health officials should prepare for such a scenario and find solutions to this unintended impact of COVID-19.

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This page is a summary of: Measuring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Sexually Transmitted Diseases Public Health Surveillance and Program Operations in the State of California, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, April 2021, Wolters Kluwer Health, DOI: 10.1097/olq.0000000000001441.
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