This article presents results from a study of health care providers, mainly nurses and nurse practitioners, who routinely diagnose sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in rural low-income populations in West Virginia (WV). A qualitative analysis of eighteen semi-structured interviews reveals that providers who consistently work with low-income populations believe patients undergo a negative change in self-image in response to a chronic STD diagnosis. Providers express concerns about a number of issues related to low-income, rural women’s access to sexual health care and see the need for more sexuality education, more funding for free and reduced cost clinics, and more available health insurance. Additionally, despite problems working in publicly funded clinic environments, providers attempt to eliminate stigma attached to diagnoses of sexually transmitted disease.
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