Barbers and Hair Salons Tackle St. Louis' STD Problem

October 19, 2017

Cut, color and … condoms? More than a dozen St. Louis barber shops and beauty salons have expanded their services to include education on sexually transmitted diseases.

 
The Fade Out program, named for the popular haircut, is part of the St. Louis Health Department’s effort to reduce the city’s notoriously high STD rates. Public health workers started recruiting barbers and stylists two years ago based on a similar program in Dallas. The salons primarily serve African-American neighborhoods, which have disproportionate rates of STDs.
 
The stylists receive training in their shops to learn how to broach the subject with their clients. They are taught facts about HIV and STD transmission, prevention and treatment. They receive male and female condoms to distribute to the public and can refer people to other resources for testing and medical care.
 
Hair salons are known for being conversation hubs, with the styling chair serving as an informal version of the psychiatrist’s couch. The close rapport between stylists and clients in a relaxed atmosphere fits well for conversations about safe sex behaviors, stylists said.
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