The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week a total of $6.2 million in new grants, to be given to several health departments over three years. North Carolina’s share of the funds amounts to $352,000 per year for three years — a total of $1,056,000. Other program areas receiving similar funding include New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Texas and Washington, D.C.

The new grants will be used to streamline health services for similar diseases, including HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), viral hepatitis and tuberculosis a release from the CDC said. The CDC hopes the grants will increase collaboration among various programs and the integration of prevention and testing services.

“These funds will enable health departments in six areas with high burden of disease to evolve beyond their current disease-specific prevention approaches and begin providing more comprehensive services, which ultimately should save time, resources and lives,” Kevin Fenton, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, STDs, Viral Hepatitis and TB Prevention, said in a release. “Service integration provides one-stop shopping for a wide range of health services, which can eliminate repeated registration periods and reduce numerous administrative barriers facing people who live in underserved areas.”

The CDC says HIV, STDs, hepatitis and tuberculosis often share many “behavioral, social, environmental and biological factors,” putting some people at risk for HIV infection as well as acquiring other STDs and hepatitis. They say increased infection risks for varied diseases are higher among certain populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM). According to the release, about 57 percent of new HIV infections are among MSM and 63 percent of new syphilis cases are among MSM. About 25 percent of all people with HIV are also infected with the hepatitis C virus.

The release continued, “Despite high prevalence of co-infection, many prevention strategies and services focus on diagnosing and treating just one infection. Program collaboration and service integration can simplify existing processes, accelerate disease prevention, and have a greater overall impact on the well-being of those infected with these diseases by combining prevention, testing and other services.”

In related news from the CDC, a new data brief also released this week showed up to one-third of all sexuality education courses for youth under 18 omit critical information on birth control. More youth received basic sex ed information on “how to say no to sex” than those who received more comprehensive forms of education. However, 92 percent of male and 93 percent of female teens reported education on STDs and 89 percent of male and 88% of female teens reported instruction on HIV/AIDS prevention. The September data brief did not address LGBT inclusion or exclusion in sex ed programs.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.