SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash., December 1, 2023—A new clinic dedicated to low-barrier testing, treatment, and prevention services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) officially opened Friday, December 1, at the Snohomish County Health Department.
The clinic, at 3020 Rucker Avenue in Everett, adds crucial services:
- Testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, as well as both rapid testing and blood draws for HIV.
- Treatment options available for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis for individuals and their partners.
This expands on the Health Department’s existing STI program, which has been providing HIV testing, sexual health education, partner counseling, and referrals for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
“I’m particularly grateful, thankful, and understanding of the importance of the services that you provide to the public and to communities that otherwise would not have access,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers told Health Department staff and guests on Friday. “The opening today of these direct services is really a day to celebrate here in Snohomish County, and I’m very, very excited.”
The Health Department (then Health District) previously had a clinic, but it closed in 2009 due to funding. The return of an STI clinic has been 14 years in the making and is possible thanks to $975,000 in State funding received earlier this year to launch a two-year pilot project focused on reducing sexually transmitted infections.
“It’s important to have a place with low barriers where people can come, be safe, be who they are, and talk about what services they need to get diagnosed, treated, and work with getting their partners treated to interrupt that transmission in the community,” said Snohomish County Health Department Director Dennis Worsham. “It’s really an important public health role. We’re committed to go forward and do that here as part of our work.”
There have been increases in STIs, in Snohomish County and statewide.
- Between 2009 and 2022, the case rate for gonorrhea more than quadrupled in Snohomish County.
- Syphilis rates increased from less than 1 case per 100,000 county residents in 2009 to 11.1 cases per 100,000 residents in 2022.
- The county also has seen multiple reported cases of congenital syphilis since 2021, after years with zero such cases. This is when a pregnant individual who is untreated passes syphilis to the baby.
- While new HIV cases have not been on the rise, they still are regularly reported. There were more than 40 newly diagnosed cases countywide last year.
This clinic does not replace other healthcare resources in the community. Testing and treatment continue to be available from other healthcare providers including primary care and urgent care. The new clinic expands upon those resources and helps reduce barriers to care. People without a regular healthcare provider, without insurance, or who are unable or uncomfortable seeking testing or treatment through their regular provider or clinic can come to the Health Department for no-cost services.
“I came here in 2009 when the clinic closed, and I will tell you that it is a challenge being a physician in the community, seeing a patient, and then sending them into the void with the hope of follow-up and care,” said Dr. Ryan Keay, a physician with Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and Snohomish County EMS. “I think that the opportunity of having a clinic like this that is open, collaborative, non-judgmental, that really provides wraparound services is vital, is unique, and has been a gap in our community for a long time.”
To reduce the spread of STIs, it is essential to treat active cases, notify people who have been exposed so they can get tested and treated, and provide information and resources for prevention. This clinic will make that easier for clients by bringing testing, treatment, and case management into the same space.
“It’s been a real honor to work with all of our staff here, especially the STI staff who have been working hard for years on this,” said Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. James Lewis. “And I just want to say that when you hear from those staff, they are supposed to be in your business. They are there to help you and they want you to get better, so please work with them. I know it can be alarming sometimes when you hear from some person you weren’t necessarily expecting to hear from about something that’s pretty private, so thank you for taking the time to work with them.”
Appointments are strongly encouraged but not required for the new clinic. Walk-ins will be seen as time allows. For more information, please visit www.snohd.org/STIClinic.
Some images and video clips of the new clinic are available for download and use by media at this link.
REMINDERS FOR REDUCING THE SPREAD OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS:
- Get tested if you are sexually active, particularly if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.
- Talk to your partner or partners about their sexual health history.
- Use protection. Even if you use other methods for birth control, a condom helps protect against multiple STIs while a pill or implant will not.
- If you do have a positive STI screening, follow through with treatment.