With the continued spread of COVID-19, the focus hasn't been on sexual health despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics showing the number of STD infections in the United States is increasing significantly. When it comes to those sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), young adults, minorities, and gay males in the United States are disproportionately affected and less likely to seek standard medical treatment.
That’s where Positive Directions, a local non-profit organization, comes in. Positive Directions is committed to preventing the transmission of STDs and increasing access to sexual health resources for Wichitans. Positive Directions was founded in Wichita in 1991 and for their first 25 years, the organization’s services focused on providing resources and testing in support of HIV-positive community members. After receiving additional funding in 2016, their services expanded to include free Syphilis and Hepatitis C testing.
With over two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis recorded in 2018 STD clinics have become essential healthcare facilities for those who may not otherwise have access to healthcare, such as the uninsured or those who want confidential treatment. In addition to testing, Positive Directions’ outreach programming links people with the resources to be knowledgeable about sexual health and minimize risky sexual behaviors.
“We've got a whole system on linking people with the proper care no matter what they come back positive with, whether it's HIV syphilis, Hep C gonorrhea, or chlamydia,” said Brett Hogan, Executive Director for Positive Directions. “Regardless if you're from Wichita or any of the surrounding cities, no one gets turned away, and patients will be put on the route to getting your everyday life back,”
Across the country, a substantial number of reported HIV, primary and secondary syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea cases are diagnosed in an STD clinic. A study by the American Journal of Public Health found that patients prefer receiving treatment at STD clinics for many reasons, including cost, confidentiality, and the convenience of these venues with their expert STD care.
Positive Directions prides itself on providing a welcoming and lively environment that defies the stigma of a traditional clinic. Some of their other services include live information sessions designed to present updated, reliable information and provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions in a safe, non-judgemental atmosphere. Positive Directions also has several free standard condom dispensers around Wichita.
"My mission is to hunt HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and the more tests I can provide and the more people who seek treatment, the bigger the net is so I can catch my "fish," if you will," said Hogan.
For more information about STDs and treatment options, visit the Positive Directions website https://www.positivedirectionsks.org/ or stop by their office at 154 N Topeka Wichita, KS 67