HHS Issues First National Strategic Plan to Address STIs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week released its first national strategic plan to address the public health crisis caused by alarming increases in rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States over the past six years. The STI National Strategic Plan 2021-2025 sets national goals, objectives and strategies to respond to the STI epidemic. The plan will serve as a roadmap to help federal and non-federal stakeholders at all levels and in all sectors reverse the sharp upward trends in STI rates.

Between 2014 and 2018, the rates of reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis, congenital syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia rose 71 percent, 185 percent, 63 percent, and 19 percent, respectively. Human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common STI, accounts for 14 million new infections per year. The impact of the STI epidemic does not fall equally across all populations and regions. Adolescents and young adults, men who have sex with men, and pregnant women are disproportionately impacted by STIs. Social determinants of health contribute to a substantial unequal burden of STIs in Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic communities. People living in the Southern and Western regions of the U.S. are also disproportionately affected.

The STI plan outlines five goals to guide planning efforts, which include:

  • Prevent new STIs
  • Improve the health of people by reducing adverse outcomes of STIs
  • Accelerate progress in STI research, technology, and innovation
  • Reduce STI-related health disparities and health inequities
  • Achieve integrated, coordinated efforts that address the STI epidemic

Each goal includes a set of objectives and strategies to guide partners and other stakeholders toward achieving them. The objectives and strategies are evidence- and science-based, flexible, integrated, and promote innovative approaches.

The full national strategic plan is available here.