Local doctor, health professional talk about STI cases in Iowa

Polk Country STI resources are currently available at low cost. The test is $10 for Polk County residents, $25 for non-residents, and the follow-up medication is free.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Doctors are seeing a steady rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) across the state, with some states experiencing these problems more than others.

dr Megan Srinivas is an infectious disease physician and an elected representative of the Iowa House. She has delved extensively into STD studies and has noticed a steady increase in cases here in Iowa in the wake of the pandemic.

“People didn’t have as much access to public health facilities. They didn’t go to their doctors that often, so they didn’t have the same prophylactic discussions about how to prevent the spread of STDs,” Srinivas said.

Although dr Citing Sriniva’s higher case numbers in rural communities, Polk County Health Department’s Madisun VanGundy shared that Polk County is seeing the same upward trend.

VanGundy said the health department is working to combat the rise in cases.

“We’re doing more testing than ever, which I think could also contribute to an increase in the cases we’re seeing,” VanGundy said.

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Currently, Polk County’s resources for STI assistance are understated.

“It’s $10 in Polk County — if you live in Polk County,” Vangundy said. “And $25 if you live outside of Polk County. But if you test positive here, the drugs are free.”

Even before the pandemic, Srinivas noted that cases were steadily increasing.

She said she believes politics has a role to play in the issue, as polarization around reproductive and sexual health rights makes it difficult for some to access this care.

The way to bring down infections, according to Srinivas, is to put people’s health ahead of politics.

“I worry that if we continue to have more politically motivated discussions instead of thinking about what’s best for Iowans, care in our state will shrink,” she said.

Srinivas is currently working with the World Health Organization on a case study to see how the pandemic has affected access to sexual reproductive health care.

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