Comprehensive Bill to Address CA’s STI Crisis Heads to Governor’s Desk
Amy Moy / 415.518.4465 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Joint Statement from SB 306 Co-Sponsors
- APLA Health
- Black Women for Wellness Action Project
- Essential Access Health
- Fresno Barrios Unidos
- Los Angeles LGBT Center
- San Francisco AIDS Foundation
Sacramento, CA – On September 10, the California Assembly passed SB 306, 61-9 with bi-partisan support. The bill then briefly returned to the Senate for concurrence, which it passed 28-9. Authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan, SB 306 aims to address California’s sexually transmitted infection (STI) public health crisis by expanding access to STI testing remotely at home and in the community, increase access to STI treatment for patients and their partners, and update state law to expand congenital syphilis screening in alignment with current clinical guidelines. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for consideration.
“The passage of SB 306 through both legislative chambers is another critical and meaningful step toward addressing the ongoing STI crisis + advancing the state’s commitment to health equity.
Pre-existing structural barriers to STI treatment and care have led to Black, Indigenous and people of color, rural regions, California youth, and LGBTQ+ communities experiencing disproportionately high STI rates. These disparities are expected to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic with even more limited access to prevention information, testing, and treatment over the past year.
Data released by the Centers for Disease Control earlier this year reported that for the sixth consecutive year, cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in the U.S. have hit an all-time high. California has the second highest syphilis rate and fifth highest congenital syphilis rate in the nation. More than 100 babies were born with congenital syphilis in LA County in 2020 alone.
This should serve as a wake-up call to state leaders who have ignored our state’s STI crisis for far too long.
The good news is that with increased state investment in STI prevention and enactment of public policies like SB 306 designed to close gaps in access to STI care and culturally responsive education and outreach, we can start moving the needle in the right direction.
We applaud Dr. Pan for his leadership in introducing this comprehensive and robust approach to STI prevention, and thank the Assembly members who voted in favor of this important measure. We now urge the Governor to sign SB 306 into law to improve our public health system and advance health equity statewide.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have an STI. Long before the COVID-19 public health emergency, STI rates reached historic highs and epidemic proportions in California and nationwide. The STI crisis has been exacerbated during the pandemic with reduced testing and shortages in testing supplies – disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous and people of color, California youth, and gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
The CDC estimates that there are approximately 20 million new STI infections each year. California STI rates are among the highest in the nation. Syphilis rates are particularly alarming – between 2015 and 2019, syphilis rates in California rose by 74%, and between 2012 and 2019, congenital syphilis rates nearly quadrupled. If left undetected and untreated, STIs can lead to serious, long-term health problems including infertility, cancer, and blindness. In 2018, more than 329 babies were born with congenital syphilis in California and there were 20 stillbirths associated with the disease. More than 100 babies were born with congenital syphilis in Los Angeles County alone in 2020. The cost of STIs to the U.S. health care system is estimated to be as much as $16 billion annually. Approximately $1 billion is spent annually statewide on health costs associated with STIs.
SB 306 will expand access to STI testing + treatment through the following provisions:
- Expand access to STI testing and treatment at home and in the community
- Increase access to STI treatment for patients and their partners
- Update state law to increase syphilis screening and testing for pregnant people