California Senate Passes Bill to Address California’s STI Epidemic and Expand Equitable Pathway to STI Care

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Amy Moy / 415.518.4465 / amoy@essentialaccess.org

Sacramento, CA — Today, the California State Senate voted 29-4 in support of SB 1234, the STI Prevention + Treatment Fairness Act. The measure seeks to address California’s rising rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and close gaps in access to STI prevention and treatment. If enacted, low-income, uninsured LGBTQ+ patients and others who currently lack access to affordable or confidential STI services would become eligible to access STI care under the Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (Family PACT) program.

SB 1234 is now headed to the Assembly for consideration. 

“STI rates in California and across the country have reached crisis levels and continue to rise,” said Dr. Richard Pan, State Senator. “SB 1234 is an essential public health measure that will expand access to free and confidential STI diagnosis and treatment and advance our state’s values and goals related to health equity.”

In response to the bill’s advancement, co-sponsors APLA Health, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Equality California, Essential Access Health, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation released the following reactions to the bill’s passage:

“Despite California’s out-of-control STI epidemic, it’s still too hard for many LGBTQ+ and other vulnerable community members to access STI testing and treatment,” said Craig E. Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of APLA Health. “APLA Health recently opened its first 'Out Here Sexual Health Center’ that offers fast, convenient, and free or low-cost sexual health services by and for the LGBTQ+ community in the heart of L.A. County. SB 1234 will further improve access to these services by requiring the state’s Family PACT program to cover STI testing and treatment for all low-income, uninsured Californians regardless of their individual family planning needs. APLA Health applauds the Senate for passing this critical legislation.”

“Access to high quality healthcare is a basic human right. It’s our responsibility to make sure everyone has the same opportunities to access respectful and non-judge mental care to address their specific health care needs,” said Kimberly Robinson, Community Liaison of Black Women for Wellness Action Project.

"STI rates have reached historic highs and continue to climb in California. In addition, the pandemic has highlighted and worsened the health inequities that LGBTQ+ people, low-income and our most vulnerable communities continue to face every day,” said Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California. "SB 1234 will expand access to essential STI prevention and treatment on a nondiscriminatory basis to LGBTQ+ people and others with confidentiality concerns, continuing California’s work to reduce health disparities for marginalized populations.”

“STI rates have reached historic highs and continue to climb in California and across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has only reminded us that we must be vigilant and responsive when it comes to public health,” said Amy Moy, Chief External Affairs Officer of Essential Access Health. “SB 1234 is the bold action we need to help turn the tide on the STI epidemic, and ensure that everyone has access to the high-quality, patient-centered, and confidential STI treatment and services they want and need through a robust network of Family PACT providers. We applaud the Senate for voting to advance the bill and recognizing the important role it will play in advancing health access and equity statewide. We are proud to work with Senator Pan and we thank him for his ongoing leadership and efforts to address the state’s STI crisis.”

“With rates of STIs in California continuing to rise at an alarming pace, we must prioritize policy and structural solutions that increase equitable access to comprehensive STI services to communities that are disproportionately affected,” said Tyler TerMeer, PhD, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) supports SB 1234, which would close the coverage gap in STI services for LGBTQ+ individuals. This is a policy priority that will advance health justice for our communities in California. SFAF appreciates the opportunity to work with Dr. Pan on this important legislation.”