Getting tested and treated for chlamydia is easy, but the chlamydia rate in Minnesota has reached epidemic rates in the last two decades. In response, HealthFinders has joined forces with local health partners to create a free chlamydia screening and treatment program for Rice County.

Through this collaboration, known as Rice County Chlamydia Partnership (RCCP), anybody can walk into Rice County Public Health or a HealthFinders clinic for a free screening and sexual health resources. Screenings are quick — individuals just have to fill out a confidentiality form and pee into a cup. Those who screen positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea receive free treatment for them (and optionally, their sexual partners) at both the Northfield and Faribault Sterling Pharmacy.

Jess Pfahning and Mary Ellis, two BSN to DNP Family Nurse Practitioner students, developed a standing order for the screening and treatment of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Rice County. This standing order led to the creation of the RCCP with the help of Jess and Mary, who remain involved in the program’s continuation. They explain that chlamydia often comes with no symptoms, but when untreated can lead to pelvic disease and infertility.

They also note that barriers to STI screening are numerous, including cost of care, screening availability, fear of judgment, and privacy. RCCP aims to eradicate some of those barriers by providing free and private screenings and treatment during open office hours and other local events.

Building community awareness and destigmatizing STI screening are core components of RCCP’s work. Through St Olaf’s J-term graphic art course, students created posters advertising the availability and ease of STI testing in Rice County, with slogans like “Koalas can get chlamydia too!”

Annual screenings for STIs are a national recommendation for all sexually active individuals. Since the program’s launch on April 25, RCCP has screened 19 individuals. In the coming months, Jess and Mary say they hope to increase the screening numbers and make sure they are treating increased rates of STIs. If you live in Rice County, come to HealthFinders to get tested — all you have to do is pee!

This project has been made possible via collaboration with HealthFinders staff; Deb Purfeerst, PHN; Bonnie Story, RN; Dr. Lum at Rice County Public Health; and Jessica Astrup, Community Pharmacist at Sterling Pharmacy. Funding is provided through the Title X Family Planning outreach grant.

Like RCCP’s Facebook page and see more posters here!