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Social stigma a barrier to sex-related healthcare in rural Iowa

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

With most health services in rural Iowa provided by general family practitioners rather than by specialists, and with only a small number of family practices in existence, privacy issues and social pressures may deny rural Iowans access to reproductive healthcare such as STD testing and treatment, according to an article in the Iowa Independent.

People may avoid using the services available due to worry over privacy issues. Asking for birth control or for an STD test from a doctor who could easily disclose what was discussed to parents or relatives, even if only by accident, can be difficult.

"In many cases - and I think this is especially true in small towns - there is a perception that these services are taboo or something controversial when they aren't at all," Christie Vilsack told the Independent. Vilsack, the former first lady of Iowa, is now executive director of the Iowa Initiative, an organization that aims to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies across the state.

Iowa has a rate of 34 STD infections for every one thousand Iowans between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, not including herpes, trichomoniasis and HPV, which are not reported to the IDPH.ADNFCR-2248-ID-19199481-ADNFCR

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