August 29, 2019

Where Do Most Women Get HIV Testing Now?

When the DHHS-imposed deadline arrived on August 19, Planned Parenthood officially withdrew from receiving Title X funding – the federal program established in the early 1970’s to ensure access to sexual and reproductive care services for low income people. For the last fifty years, Planned Parenthood (established in 1917) has been the largest provider of services to Title X patients. In 1987, they added HIV testing to their range of services which already included testing and treatment for other STIs, cancer screening and a range of reproductive health care services. Most of its clients are people of color, young people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and people in rural areas. With no more Title X support going to Planned Parenthood, these people will likely have to travel further these services, pay more for them and possibly do without.

The withdrawal was triggered by Planned Parenthood’s refusal to comply with the DHHS’ new rule barring recipients from performing or even providing information about abortion in a Title X funded facility. When DHHS proposed the new rule last year, they received over 500,000 public comments, most of them in strong opposition to the change. NPR reports that Planned Parenthood officials “had been holding out hope that a federal court would intervene or that Congress would act to preserve their funding.” In July, the House of Representatives passed a Title X Protection Act that would preserve the funding. The Senate, however, has not passed it.

This new status quo can only be revised now by either a court decision or by passage of the Title X Protection Act in both chambers. Right now, you can speak up on the issue by calling both of your Senators, telling them you are a health care professional, and asking them to support the Act. The number for the Senate switchboard is 1-202-601-3441.

Other major provider associations supporting the Act include the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, National Association of Community Health Centers, American Academy of Pediatrics and ACOG among others. They are opposing the rule change on the grounds that it damages the patient-provider relationship and intrudes in a provider’s practice.

At last count, nearly three million (2,840,000) people use Planned Parenthood services in the U.S. Almost half (41%) of the women who get their care from publicly funded family planning centers identify the local family planning provider as their only source of health care. Where will they get their HIV testing and care now?

View the latest Policy Update here.