The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) joins the National Coalition of STD Directors in recognizing October 7 as the fifth annual National Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) Recognition Day. Celebrated each year on the first Friday of October, this day honors the DIS workforce, the backbone of state and local sexually transmitted disease (STD) and HIV programs.
“DIS are the cornerstone of prevention and control efforts for HIV and other STDs in Iowa,” said George Walton, IDPH STD Prevention Program Manager. “They are the faces of public health, and play a critical role in intervening to stop the transmission of disease by reaching beyond the patient to others who may not know they have been infected.”
DIS provide partner services, which are confidential interviews of persons diagnosed with HIV and other STDs. During the interviews, the DIS directly address concerns a person may have about their diagnosis or treatment and may also make referrals for other needs, like transportation to medical appointments. The DIS also works to obtain the names and contact information of the person’s sexual partner(s) so they, too, can be offered counseling, testing, and treatment. This service effectively breaks the chain of disease transmission and protects the public’s health.
IDPH employs six DIS, assigned to different regions of Iowa. In addition, Polk, Linn, Black Hawk, and Scott county health departments employ DIS who serve individuals within their respective counties. In 2015, state and county DIS interviewed nearly 3,000 Iowans and worked with numerous medical providers and laboratories to verify appropriate testing and treatment for over 14,000 Iowans.
DIS complete an extensive training course sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which provides a strong foundation for field investigation techniques, making their skill set essential to containing disease outbreaks beyond STDs such as H1N1, influenza, e-coli, and Ebola. To learn more about National DIS Recognition Day, visit www.ncsddc.org/DIS. For more information about STD prevention in Iowa, see https://idph.iowa.gov/hivstdhep/std.