Each year 9.8 million young people ages 15 to 24 are infected with STDs, resulting in $6.5 billion in annual direct health care costs and long-term health consequences for affected youth. STDs can cause infertility and cancer, lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, and facilitate HIV transmission. Yet most infections are asymptomatic, reducing the perceived urgency of testing. To advance strategies for payers and providers to improve youth screening and treatment, NIHCM Foundation and the National Chlamydia Coalition hosted a webinar on July 24, 2013 that included the following presentations:
- Gail Bolan, Director of the Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention at the CDC, talked about national trends in youth STD infection and why youth are at higher risk. She outlined treatment and screening guidelines and noted key barriers to universal testing, including physicians' doubts that high STD rates apply to their patient populations and confidentiality concerns both in billing and in the clinical setting.
- Gale Burstein, the Commissioner of Health for Erie County (NY), discussed systems-level strategies for providers to improve screening, such as making urine collection part of the standard youth appointment process and clearly defining confidentiality for the patient and parent. She also highlighted strategies for communicating with providers on screening, including a detailing technique adapted from pharmaceutical sales.
- Kenneth Bence from Medica and Margaret Crawford from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota explained how health plans in their state are working together and with a public-private coalition to improve chlamydia screening rates for Medicaid enrollees. They talked about the state environment that enables these partnerships, described the provider toolkit developed by the collaborative, and considered some of the advantages of cooperation, such as consistent messaging to providers.