From 1978 to 2005, Handsfield was director of the STD Control Program for Public Health Seattle & King County, where he honed his trailblazing skills. Under Handsfield's leadership, the Seattle/King County STD Control Program was among the first in the nation to expand STD prevention efforts beyond syphilis and gonorrhea to include emerging syndromes like genital herpes, chlamydial infections and the other 20 or so common sexually transmitted infections. Handsfield implemented a comprehensive, holistic style and reliance on physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide high quality clinical and prevention servicesrevolutionary at the time but now the national standard.
"As much or more than anyone in the United States, Hunter's career has really bridged the divide between academic research and the practice of public health," said Dr. Matthew Golden, the current Director of the Seattle/King County HIV/STD Program. "His career is a model for people who want to integrate research with public health prevention."
Handsfield's research also established current standards for routine testing of women for chlamydia, the most common STD caused by bacteria.
"We initiated the nation's first routine chlamydia screening program," Handsfield said. "We did it first in the STD clinic, quickly expanded to public health family planning clinics, then to the community levelall pretty much before other health departments were testing even in STD clinics."
Handsfield summarizes his career as one that was broadly based on prevention of all STDs, including HIV/AIDS. The ASTDA awards committee cited his signal contributions to understanding to understanding the epidemiology, clinical manifestations, treatment and prevention of gonorrhea. He first defined the frequency and importance of asymptomatic, silent gonorrhea in men and
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