St. Louis’ health department uses barber shops to fight STDs

Row of black leather chairs in modern barber shop interior. Horizontal indoors shot

ST. LOUIS – In some St. Louis barber shops and beauty salons, customers might get sex education while having their hair cut and styled.

The health department has recruited more than a dozen of the shops to help in the fight against the city’s high rate of sexually transmitted diseases.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the effort, called the Fade Out program, is taking place mostly in African-American neighborhoods, which have disproportionate rates of STDs.

Barbers and stylists in the shops have been trained on how to bring up the topic with customers. They learn facts about the diseases and even hand out condoms.

Supporters of the effort say the rapport between the stylists and their customers and the relaxing atmosphere can help make people comfortable enough to talk about the issue.