National Disease Intervention Specialists Recognition Day; Day Honors Unsung Heroes of STD/HIV Outreach Programs

  MEDIA RELEASE

 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date September 25, 2014                          

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

 National Disease Intervention Specialists Recognition Day

Day Honors Unsung Heroes of STD/HIV Outreach Programs 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”), along with the National Coalition of STD Directors (“NCSD”), will be participating on Friday, October 3, 2014, in the third annual “National Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) Recognition Day.”   This day recognizes the work of these public health professionals that serves as the foundation for all STD and HIV programs -- Disease Intervention Specialists or DIS.

“The role played by our Disease Intervention Specialists is an essential part of our Public Health mandate” stated Dr. Gale R. Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health.  “Their work is vital to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (“STD”) and HIV, but they also provide public health education and outreach on other diseases, such as tuberculosis and hepatitis.” 

DIS personnel provide confidential interviews of persons diagnosed with an STD to address concerns about their diagnosis, treatment, counseling, and referral needs. In addition, they work to obtain the names and contact information of their sexual partner(s) in order to confidentially inform their partners of their exposure, and to offer counseling, testing and treatment. This service effectively breaks the chain of disease transmission and protects the public health.

Disease Intervention Specialists complete an extensive training course from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This background provides a strong foundation for field investigation techniques, making their skill set essential to other disease outbreaks such as H1N1 influenza, and e-coli.

Excluding New York City, Erie County historically has the highest rate of gonorrhea infection within New York State. In 2013, Erie County Health Department ‘s staff of five dedicated DIS workers, together with New York State Department of Health Disease Intervention Specialists, have worked 110 syphilis cases, 1,057 gonorrhea cases and a significant number of 4,892 reported chlamydia cases. In addition, the Erie County DIS also proactively contacted a significant number of individuals who were brought in for testing and treatment as a result of DIS efforts.

“Disease Intervention Specialists are ready at the helm, rising to public health challenges with selfless abandon, dedication and commitment.  They cover many miles in their attempt to assure all patients who are infected, or have been exposed to an infection are notified and treated,” stated William Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors

“We would like to recognize Liza Gabriel-Austin, Monica Ciurczak, Josh Pisarek, Philip White, Patti Guadagna, Michael Chase and Rebecca Sole for the valuable and outstanding service they provide to the residents of Erie County” concluded Burstein.

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For More Information:

Erie County Department of Health – www.erie.gov/health