Sunday, February 8, 2009

Millions for STD prevention in stimulus package

I don't think anyone can be unaware that the House and Senate have been debating an economic stimulus package over the last few weeks. What you may not realize is that both the House and Senate versions contained substantial sums for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases - $335 million in the House bill and $400 million in STD spending in the Senate bill.

Naturally this funding has faced criticism from Republicans who say the funding makes no sense in bill designed to get the economy back on track.

Republicans say the bill ... has become a vehicle for congressional Democrats to get approval for projects they've been unable to secure in recent years with congressional Republicans and President Bush able to foil their efforts.

Others argue that the money is desperately needed to replace jobs lost in State and local health departments due to the economic crisis.

So it is worth reminding critics of the following: Disease prevention is a job. Reinvestment in the prevention of HIV, STDs, viral hepatitis and TB — after six years of steady decreases in funding that have left our public health systems as "potholed" as any highway — will (re)create thousands of jobs, modernize and strengthen our public health infrastructure, and improve access to health care in ways that will reduce absenteeism and raise productivity at other jobs in our community.

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