FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2023
Jackson, [October 5, 2023] —My Brother’s Keeper Inc. (MBK) and Open Arms Healthcare Center (Open Arms) announce plans to expand and enhance sexual health research and programs. The organization proudly reveals it is a recipient of a 2023 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Award.
In light of the nationwide STI epidemic and inadequate existing clinical infrastructure, Open Arms is initiating comprehensive plans to amplify access to high-quality, stigma-free STI care and inclusive sexual health services. The target demographic includes young individuals and racial and ethnic minority groups, given the higher prevalence and persistent disparities of STIs within these populations.
Open Arms' initiatives are meticulously designed to mitigate the incidence of STI and related infection-related illnesses and fatalities. The expansion of STI prevention and additional sexual health services will underpin a syndemic approach, which is vital to providing exhaustive sexual health care in routine clinical settings.
Syndemics refer to interacting epidemics that intensify their detrimental health impacts on communities grappling with multiple inequitable issues. Preliminary data indicate 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in 2021. Moreover, during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, notable increases in STI rates were observed: gonorrhea (4.6%), chlamydia (3%), primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis among reproductive-aged women (52.3%), and congenital syphilis (34.2%). Importantly, having an STI can more than double the risk of transmitting or contracting HIV during sexual activities.
Open Arms and MBK are committed to engaging the community in this crucial public health response. According to MBK President and CEO, Dr. June Gipson, "Community involvement in a public health response not only enhances awareness of the epidemic but also builds capacity, understanding, leadership, and human resources.” This participatory approach equips community advocates with knowledge about the epidemic, collaboration skills, and advocacy capabilities.
Through this new initiative, Open Arms will also strive to refine the patient clinic experience and bolster public health partnerships for the prevention and care services, especially catering to individuals managing multiple health conditions.
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