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"STDs are hidden epidemics of enormous health and economic consequence in the United States. They are hidden because many Americans are reluctant to address sexual health issues in an open way and because of the biologic and social characteristics of these diseases. All Americans have an interest in STD prevention because all communities are impacted by STDs and all individuals directly or indirectly pay for the costs of these diseases.
STDs are public health problems that lack easy solutions because they are rooted in human behavior and fundamental societal problems. Indeed, there are many obstacles to effective prevention efforts. The first hurdle will be to confront the reluctance of American society to openly confront issues surrounding sexuality and STDs. Despite the barriers, there are existing individual- and community-based interventions that are effective and can be implemented immediately. That is why a multifaceted approach is necessary to both the individual and community levels.
To successfully prevent STDs, many stakeholders need to redefine their mission, refocus their efforts, modify how they deliver services, and accept new responsibilities. In this process, strong leadership, innovative thinking, partnerships, and adequate resources will be required. The additional investment required to effectively prevent STDs may be considerable, but it is negligible when compared with the likely return on the investment.
The process of preventing STDs must be a collaborative one. No one agency, organization, or sector can effectively do it alone; all members of the community must do their part. A successful national initiative to confront and prevent STDs requires widespread public awareness and participation and bold national leadership from the highest levels."1
1 Eng TR, Butler WT, editors; Institute of Medicine (US). The hidden epidemic: confronting sexually transmitted diseases. Washington (DC): National Academy Press; 1997. p. 43.