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Economic Benefit of Preventing STDs, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 640

Research Paper

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) create stress on the economy.  STD treatments cost tax-payers billions of dollars each year, so investing money on preventing transmission could save Americans a lot of money.  However, due to political and financial arguments, government funding on prevention programs has been significantly reduced.  The purpose of this discussion is to show that education and prevention of STDs benefits the economy as well as infected individuals.

Individuals Affected by STDs

Every year, many Americans become infected with and STD and require treatment.  According to the Center for Disease Control (2013), the most common STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, the hepatitis B virus, herpes simplex virus type 2, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.  Many assume that infected individuals are homosexual males or those from a lower socioeconomic background; anyone at any time can become infected with an STD.

Cost of Prevention Verses Treatment

Research has shown that the short-term cost of investing in prevention programs for STDs saves money.  In 2013, the Center for Disease Control estimated that Americans spent $16 billion to treat STDs.  If some of these cases could have been prevented, tax-payers could have been spared a lot of money.

In 2010, out of the 33 states funding HIV prevention programs, eight cut spending for HIV testing, and nine states cut behavioral intervention and educational programs.  A study by Lin, Lasry, Sansom & Wolitski (2013) estimated that the reduction in funding would increase the yearly transmission of HIV infection.  The funding for HIV prevention to 59 of California’s health departments outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco declined by 70%, or $16 million in 2009-2010.  Because of this, it was estimated that 348 less people with HIV were diagnosed and 8,000 less people were assisted with prevention programs.  The funding cut created the opportunity for 55 more HIV infections to occur, costing $20 million for lifetime treatment.

Partner service interventions are another way to prevent transmission.  The authors Golden and Estcourt in 2011 reported that expedited partner therapy (EPT) was successful treating partners of infected individuals infected with gonorrhea and chlamydia and reducing the rate of transmission.  However, the lack of funding is the biggest hindrance to EPT, among other prevention strategies (Golden & Estcourt, 2011).  Many of insurance companies do not pay for treatment, and it falls on the responsibility of the government and tax-payers.

Problems Arise When Left Untreated

Individuals who are unaware of their infection are more likely to transmit STDs, including HIV to others.  Infected individuals who are unaware of their status may be more likely to engage in higher risk sexual behaviors (Chen, Rhodes, Hall, Kilmarx, Branson & Valleroy, 2012).  Without education, people may be more likely to transmit their STD to others.  This increase in transmission will cause spread of the disease and necessitate further spending for expensive treatment.

Conclusion

The amount of money spent on the treatment of STDs is greater than the amount of money that would be spent on prevention.  However, due to funding cuts, prevention programs are being restricted and in some cases eliminated.  The seemingly short-term benefits on the economy that reducing funding for STD prevention promises cannot remedy the long-term burden placed on taxpayers for treatment.

References

Center for Disease Control, (2013). Incidence, prevalence, and cost of sexually transmitted infections in the United  States

Chen, M., Rhodes, P., Hall, H., Kilmarx, P., Branson, B., & Valleroy, L. (2012). Prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection among persons aged ≥ 13 years – National HIV surveillance system, United States, 2005-2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 61(2), 57-64.

Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6102a10.htm

Golden, M., & Estcourt, C. (2011). Barriers to the implementation of expedited partner therapy. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 87(2), Retrieved from http://sti.bmj.com/content/87/Suppl_2/ii37.long

Lin, F., Lasry, A., Sansom, S., & Wolitski, R. (2013). Estimating the impact of state budget cuts and redirection of prevention resources on the HIV epidemic in 59 California local health departments. PLOS one, Retrieved from http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0055713

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