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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently more than 110 million cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States. Some are curable with proper medical treatment; however, many are not. Symptoms vary by infection, and many STIs are asymptomatic. If left untreated, many STIs can develop into more serious health concerns, including certain types of cancer, severe reproductive health complications, infertility, and even death.
Because of the prevalence of STIs across populations, human service and mental healthcare professionals in the course of their work are likely to encounter many people living with STIs. This basic-level course provides human service and mental health clinicians with information about STIs and a framework for working with clients suspected of having an STI. The course explains the sexual health assessment, the biopsychosocial components of prevention, and ways to sensitively and successfully discuss STIs with clients.
The course describes the signs and symptoms, risk factors, and treatment for specific STIs, with additional information on working with adolescents and older adults – two groups where STIs are proliferating. Case vignettes illustrate how human service and mental healthcare professionals can aid in STI education and prevention. The course describes the counseling, diagnosis adjustment, and partner notification processes and illuminates issues related to STIs among sex trafficking victims and transgender persons. The course also details the legal and ethical responsibilities of the helping professional. The course concludes with specific information about the most common STIs in the United States: chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginosis, hepatitis, HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and trichomoniasis. A resources section provides links to information for those clinicians and clients seeking more in-depth knowledge of STIs.
- Define terms related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Differentiate myths from facts related to STIs.
- Recognize the elements of STI prevention, including assessment, screening recommendations, transmission prevention methods, partner notification, and counseling and education.
- Describe considerations for clinicians who work with clients who have STIs.
- Identify types of STIs and risk factors, causative agents, signs and symptoms, and treatment of common infections.
Elizabeth B. Russell, PhD, LCSW, is currently an assistant professor in the Department of the Social Work at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, where she teaches courses on mental health practice and research. She received a PhD in education from the University of Rochester (her doctoral dissertation concerned mental health practitioners working in the area of sexual health), a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a bachelor of science degree in human development and family studies from Cornell University. She has worked in a variety of practice settings, including as a case manager for the chronically mentally ill, clinical social worker and sex therapist in a university hospital outpatient setting, child therapist, and research consultant in several community projects. Her professional interests include sexual health, sex therapy, interpersonal practice, and evidence-based practice. Dr. Russell’s current research focuses on health professionals’ training in sexual health and their clinical practices. Dr. Russell has authored and co-authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and book reviews.
- Contact hours will be awarded for up to one (1) year from the date the course is ordered.
- You must score 75% or higher on the final exam and complete the course evaluation to pass this course and receive a certificate of completion.
- Through our review processes, Western Schools ensures that this course content is presented in a balanced, unbiased manner and is free from commercial influence. It is Western Schools’ policy not to accept commercial support.
- All persons involved in the planning and development of this course have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to the course content.