Comprehensive Bill to Address California’s STI Epidemic Passes Senate Business and Professions Committee

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Emma Hodson / (510) 486-0412, x2326

APLA Health
Black Women for Wellness Action Project
Essential Access Health
Fresno Barrios Unidos
Los Angeles LGBT Center
San Francisco AIDS Foundation

Monday, April 19, 2021 – Sacramento, CA - Today, SB 306, authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan, advanced out of the Senate Business and Professions Committee by a vote of 10-3. Passage of the measure, also known as the STD Coverage and Care Act, comes on the heels of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control that reveals that STI rates have increased across the United States for the sixth consecutive year in a row. Although STIs increased across many groups in 2019 – the most recent data available – communities of color, gay and bisexual men, and youth were hit the hardest. 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. The bill will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.

Joint Statement from SB 306 Co-Sponsors

“The data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control should serve as a call to action. Rising rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are the result of a lack of investment in our public health infrastructure at the federal and state levels, and a failure of our public policies to address gaps in STI prevention, testing, and treatment.

“As California seeks to prioritize health equity in our policies and strategies, we must acknowledge STI prevention as an equity issue. Pre-existing structural barriers to STI treatment and care have only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous and people of color, rural regions, California youth, and gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

“If left undiagnosed and untreated, STIs can lead to long-term health problems including infertility, cancer, blindness and increased risk for contracting HIV.

“SB 306 is the bold action California needs to turn the tide on rising rates. The bill seeks to close gaps in STI coverage and expand the tools and resources that advocates and health providers can use to expand access and improve health outcomes statewide.

“We applaud Dr. Pan for his leadership in introducing this comprehensive and robust approach to STI prevention,and thank members of the Senate Business and Professions Committee for advancing SB 306 and moving this important measure one step closer to becoming law in California.”