Routine Free STD Screenings Cut From NYC Medical Centers

08/11/2011 2:02 PM |

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In a good news/bad news week for sexual health, the city is stopping routine STD screenings at NYC free medical clinics while mandating sex ed for public school students.

The decision to stop screenings is reportedly a budgetary one:

In March, the Health Department quietly stopped routinely giving tests for sexually transmitted diseases to each New Yorker who goes to its clinics. The agency cited budgetary constraints as the reason for the change.

“The vast majority, more than 90%, of screening visits had no infection detected, yet cost the agency in excess of $400,000 a year,” said agency spokeswoman Chanel Caraway.

Patients with symptoms will still be tested, but the city is directing people to their primary care physicians for routine testing. Which, I’m guessing if you are using a free clinic, you probably don’t have insurance that allows you to see a primary care physical for regular screening?

The city clinics will still offer tests to patients who have STD “symptoms or [are] at high risk for infection,” and they will also do HIV testing, said Caraway.

At the same time, city health officials are also redirecting most people in need of an STD test to privately run community clinics. “Routine screening is best managed in a primary care setting,” Caraway said.

In happier news, it seems like while some people are getting their knickers in a twist about the new sex-ed mandate, many parents of the kids actually affected by the change are cheering the decision.

“You’ve got to be real, because kids are doing it out there,” Carla Phillip, whose 15-year-old daughter, Vanola, is a junior at Benjamin Banneker High School in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, said yesterday.

Her PTA even considered pushing for a sex ed class after a few students became pregnant this year.

I personally have had my head up my ass, sex-ed-wise, being neither a teenager nor the parent of one, and am shocked that this didn’t exist before. I think I must have lucked out because even though I went to a big Texas public school, I got pretty great and realistic sex ed, banana condom and all. Not so for the kids today, according to this Guttmacher Institute study. Personally relevant factoid:

About one in four adolescents (23% of females and 28% of males) received abstinence education without receiving any instruction about birth control in 2006—2008 [11], compared with 8—9% in 1995.

On the other hand, these days young uns have the internet, so I’d think nothing would really come as a surprise, sex-wise? Turn off that safe search, kids!