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STD Services

Providers should screen patients with HIV regularly for the presence of sexually transmitted disease (STD) and treat as appropriate.  STDs can complicate medical management of HIV infection and increase a patient’s risk of transmitting infection to partners.

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What are sexually transmitted disease (STD) services?

STD services refer to routine STD screening and treatment of patients found to have STDs.  People living with HIV should be screened annually or more frequently if patients report sexual risk factors or have signs or symptoms of an STD.  (For information on CDC guidance and recommendations for STD services, refer to: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pwp/std.html)

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Why do it?  What are the benefits?

  • Reduces the chances of HIV transmission to the patient’s sexual partner(s) through STD treatment
  • Lowers the risk for reinfection and acquisition of other STDs for persons living with HIV
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What are some of the barriers to STD services?

  • Providers’ lack of diagnostic tools or specific training for assessing, diagnosing, and treating STDs
  • Providers’ discomfort talking with patients about sexual and substance abuse behaviors
  • Lack of appropriate follow-up by providers after diagnosis or identification of high-risk behaviors
  • Difficulty  reaching certain populations, including adolescents, substance abusers, homeless people, undocumented immigrants, and those who are socioeconomically disenfranchised
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What are some strategies to improve STD services?

  • Routinely talk about and offer screening for STDs to normalize STD as a topic for discussion with patients
  • Obtain specialized STD training through the National Network of STD/HIV Prevention Training Centers (NNPTC), the regional AIDS Education Training Centers (AETC), or the AETC National Resource Center
  • Refer patients to local health department, maternal health and family planning, and other community based clinics that offer STD screening and may be more accessible and comfortable for patients
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Who is involved to make it work?

  • Physicians and other primary health care providers to screen routinely and treat their patients for STDs
  • Local health departments to assist infected patients with partner services
  • Other providers to refer HIV-positive clients who may be at risk for STD infection for screening
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Dr. Thornton's Story

When I started treating people living with HIV, I began feeling like I also needed to consider the health of their sexual partners.  Unfortunately, I was not sure how best to accomplish that.  I have always warned all my adult patients about the dangers of unprotected sex, but it honestly made me a little uncomfortable to ask about their risk behaviors.  Occasionally, I saw a...

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