The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) joins the National Coalition of STD Directors in recognizing October 5 as the first annual National Disease Prevention Specialist (DPS) Recognition Day. This day honors disease prevention specialists, the dedicated workforce of state and local sexually transmitted disease (STD) and HIV programs.
“DPSs are the cornerstone of prevention and control efforts for HIV and other STDs in Iowa,” said George Walton, IDPH STD Prevention Program Manager. “They are the faces of public health, serving as extensions to the work of medical providers, ensuring disease prevention reaches beyond the patient to others who may not know they have been infected.” DPSs provide partner services, which are confidential interviews of persons diagnosed with STDs. During the interviews, the DPS directly addresses concerns a person may have about their diagnosis or treatment and may also make referrals for other needs, like transportation to medical appointments. The DPS also works to obtain the names and contact information of the person’s sexual partner(s) so they, too, can be offered counseling, testing, and treatment. This service effectively breaks the chain of disease transmission and protects the public’s health.
IDPH employs six DPSs, stationed in six different regions of Iowa. In addition, Polk, Linn, Black Hawk, and Scott county health departments employ DPSs who serve individuals within their respective counties. In 2011, state and county DPSs interviewed nearly 4,000 Iowans and worked with numerous medical providers and laboratories to verify appropriate testing and treatment for approximately 13,000 Iowans.
To learn more about National DPS Recognition Day, visit www.ncsddc.org/DIS. For more information about Partner Services, visit www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/partners/Partner-Services.html. To learn more about HIV and STD prevention programs at IDPH, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/HivStdHep/Default.aspx.