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CDC alerts states of cuts to STI workforce, blames debt deal

Cuts comes just after the Biden administration issued a plan to address rising rates of sexually transmitted infections

Staff members hold an informal meeting before opening a free STD clinic in Portland, Maine. The CDC has told states it’s reducing funding for workers who fight sexually transmitted infections by $400 million.
Staff members hold an informal meeting before opening a free STD clinic in Portland, Maine. The CDC has told states it’s reducing funding for workers who fight sexually transmitted infections by $400 million. (Portland Press Herald via Getty)

The CDC told states on Tuesday that it was reducing funding for workers who fight sexually transmitted infections by $400 million, according to an email obtained by CQ Roll Call. The spending cuts are caused by the recently passed debt ceiling deal.

States have to annually apply to re-up their funding awards for disease intervention specialists that were allocated as part of COVID-19 relief aid. The CDC had already sent states the applications for grants to fund local disease intervention specialists but then had to pull the funding.

The move comes just after the Biden administration on June 8 issued its new multi-agency plan to address rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, directing five departments and 15 agencies to implement more than 200 steps by 2030, and it comes as rates of the most common STIs have reached record highs for eight years.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released in April found that STDs reached an eight-year high in 2021, with more than 2.5 million reported cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia between 2020 and 2021.

Public health experts were already concerned that the debt limit law and caps on domestic appropriations would limit the funding increases needed to ramp up spending on research or the workforce, as could ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic and a split Congress. Now that concern has come to fruition. 

David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, called the rescission “a devastating blow to the fight against rising STI rates” and said the cuts “betrays the spirit of the whole-of-government response officials have committed to pursuing through their own freshly minted federal STI Implementation Plan.”

Sandhya Raman contributed to this report.

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