Family Planning Funding Cuts Could Lead to Increased STI Rates in the State

May 2, 2017

Since 2013, gonorrhea infections have risen 75% in Iowa. To explore why that is the case, in this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with George Walton, STD Program Manager for the Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health and Emily Wentzell, who is an anthropology professor at the University of Iowa. 

Walton says the reason for the increase include increased testing and encouragement of providers to test patients for infection at multiple places on the body. 

"We have seen more diagnoses being made by that testing, which is one of the reasons we’re seeing this increase," he says. 

He adds, however, that that is not the only reason for the increase in infections. 

Wentzell says that tracking of this sort of information started during World War One when the government started giving mass physicals to military recruits, and she says that an increase like this is particularly troubling at a time when the state has passed legislation that blocks state funding to clinics that also provide abortions. 

"We often run into a problem with stigma when it comes to getting people to get tested for things like STIs," she says. "If you look at county public health websites, there are places in the state where Planned Parenthood is the only provider where this sort of testing is available - Fort Dodge, Mason City, and Newton, for example."