Danya Institute Inc.

Screening, testing, and treating for STIs is part of SAMHSA’s whole person approach to behavioral health treatment and substance use prevention.

Letter on the Importance of Screening, Testing, and Treating Syphilis from Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon

Earlier today, Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA, shared a letter with colleagues about the importance of SAMHSA grantees’ role in screening for, testing for, and treating syphilis among the populations they serve. This is particularly important for SAMHSA grant recipients because substance use, particularly methamphetamine use, appears to be highly correlated with rising rates of syphilis and other STIs.

While most SAMHSA grant funds cannot be used to treat syphilis, recipients may use funds to screen, test, and refer to treatment in conjunction with SAMHSA supported work. However, the letter also identifies five grant programs that allow funds to be used for staff time, STI counseling, testing, and treatment services, including for syphilis.

Dr. Delphin-Rittmon also reminded opioid treatment programs (OTPs) that they are required by federal regulation (42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 8 Rules) to “establish the risk of undiagnosed conditions such as Hepatitis C, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sexually transmitted infections (STIs).” The letter also includes a list of resources to assist clinicians in addressing this need.

The rising rates of syphilis and other STIs in the US, particularly among people who use substances, necessitate action across the healthcare field. By assessing the whole person needs of individuals with behavioral health conditions, the field can advance comprehensive treatment.