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Dedicated to improving the health of individuals, families and communities with a focus on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Why is the American Social Health Association Important? Of the many social reform groups that emerged during the early years of this century, the American Social Health Association (ASHA) is today among the few survivors of the cataclysmic changes in our society. Today, as the only organization with more than 90 years experience in the field of sexually transmitted infections, ASHA brings a unique perspective to this complex and often heavily stigmatized health issue. Public health concern loomed large in early twentieth century reform. Of these, few posed a greater challenge than venereal disease (VD) or what we now call sexually transmitted infections. In the early 20 th century, sexuality was not an acceptable topic for polite conversation and venereal disease remained largely concealed behind a veil of shame. By some estimates in 1901, as many as 80 percent of all men in New York City had had a gonorrhea infection at one time or another. Thomas N. Hepburn, MD (the father of future actress Katharine Hepburn), a young physician from Hartford, Connecticut, joined the American Social Hygiene Association (ASHA's original name) after attending to a young woman who died of acute gonorrheal peritonitis just months after her marriage to a man whose friends had put him to bed with a prostitute at his bachelor party. Over the years, the American Social Health Association has talked to thousands, if not millions, leading the national battle cry to research and communicate with people about sexually transmitted infections. Today, the American Social Health Association is
- Focused on consumer/general public
- Science (medically) based - non-partisan (won't change based on changes in leadership)
- No agenda other than helping people learn about, and understand, their choices in order to empower them to make healthy decisions
- Focused on finding effective ways in which to communicate sensitive information to the public, one at a time and often one on one. ASHA has been highly successful with the many communication vehicles, all focused on the client.
Why is the American Social Health Association Important? Approximately 18.9 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections occur each year in the United States. That's 51,780 people, newly infected, every day. The scope of the problem and the number of individuals affected is staggering, and the need for a reliable source of information and support pressing. While there are other organizations whose mission includes sexually transmitted infections, only the American Social Health Association, a national nonprofit founded in 1914, is dedicated to providing open and medically accurate information in a nonjudgmental manner and offering support to individuals affected by the complex and often heavily stigmatized health issue. For more than 90 years, the American Social Health Association has been a pioneer in sexually transmitted infection education and advocacy. During this time, ASHA has reached millions through its hotlines, interactive websites, chat room and e-mail services and educational materials. Additionally, for more than 20 years ASHA has served as the primary--and at times only--voice focusing Washington's attention on the dangers posed to our nation's health by sexually transmitted infections. While the American Social Health Association's public outreach efforts have directly touched the lives of those in need, the organization's long-standing support of STI research has had a broad impact in the field. The ASHA Research Fund is the nation's only privately funded post-doctoral research training program for scientific investigators in the area of sexually transmitted infections. The ASHA Research Fund, the nation's only privately funded post-doctoral research training program for scientific investigators in the area of sexually transmitted infections, has awarded 55 fellowships since 1975. Many of the leading STI researchers in the United States have had ASHA research fellows on their teams or they themselves began their careers under ASHA's auspices and several fellows have gone on to mentor other new investigators increasing the influence and benefits of ASHA's original investments. Today, more than ever, ASHA believes in the continued importance of interactive health communication services to help people understand the scientifically sound and research-based information people need in order to manage sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and prevent their spread. In an era where much of the rhetoric around these issues is derived from political agendas or moral values debates, ASHA stands as a credible, independent voice for reasonable and proven measures to improve health and prevent disease. As the sources of medically accurate and unbiased information are growing more difficult to find, it becomes increasingly important for ASHA to continue its history of providing immediate answers and one-to-one services in a factual, caring manner.
- Lynn Barclay
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