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Health department budget cuts jeopardize STD testing

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

As states across the country struggle with massive budget deficits, many lawmakers are slashing budgets and cutting services. In many communities, that has meant dropping funding for health clinics, an important provider of STD testing.

In response to recent budget shortfalls, the health department of Columbia, Missouri recently initiated fees for many STD tests that were formerly free of charge. This led department director Stephanie Browning to tell the Columbia Tribune that she was worried fewer people would seek testing.

A recent survey by the National Association of County and City Health Officials found that many local health departments across the country are losing funding and cutting services that some worry could jeopardize public health.

"Continued cuts to local health department budgets threaten Americans’ safety and health," said Robert M. Pestronk executive director of the association. "The cumulative effects of these budget cuts and job losses have taken a major toll on the ability of health officials."

The survey found that nearly half of all community health departments had lost workers due to budget cuts.

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