June 16, 2011
Washington, D.C. -- Today, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, along with the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, released the National Prevention Strategy (NPS). The latest in a series of public health initiatives, including the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), the NPS lists reproductive and sexual health as one of its seven priorities, demonstrating once again this administration's commitment to combatting the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The strategy also highlights the need to eliminate health disparities as one of its central strategic goals.
While taking a comprehensive approach to health promotion and disease prevention, the NPS specifically states that access to quality reproductive health services and support for safe practices can decrease unintended pregnancies while reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and other STIs. The strategy calls for increased use of screening services, affordable contraceptive programs, and effective sexual health education for both adolescents and seniors as pillars for promoting the health of America's families and communities. It also calls for the targeting of these services in communities at highest risk for unintended pregnancy and HIV and STI infections.
"The release of the NPS is another important step in ensuring the health and productivity of all Americans," said National Minority AIDS Council Deputy Executive Director Daniel C. Montoya. "Along with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the NPS outlines evidence-based strategies for reducing infections, increasing access to screening and care and minimizing health disparities. It also clearly identifies the need for cooperation among all levels of government, including local, state and federal agencies, as well nongovernmental organizations in promoting public health."
"We are pleased that the government is urging a comprehensive approach to prevention," continued Montoya. "A wide variety of socio-economic stressors can result in increased risk of infection, and we must address all of them if we are to make inroads in the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the many other health threats facing our nation. But as the strategy acknowledges, the government cannot do it alone. The public and private sectors must work together to ensure the health of its constituents and workforce. Investing in prevention is both a moral and economic imperative. As the strategy notes, preventing one HIV infection saves $355,000 in life-time medical costs. In today's economic and political climate, surely that is something we can all support."
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