Treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases may be the particular expertise of clinicians who staff sexual health clinics—but that doesn’t mean those responsibilities are their exclusive domain. Primary care and urgent care will need to step up their game if the current upswing in many STDs is to be turned around, as noted in a recent article from Kaiser Health News. Screening and treatment are both well within the expertise of urgent care providers. Further, many patients may head to urgent care when they have concerns about STDs because they’re too embarrassed to visit their “regular” doctor, and find the relative anonymity of the urgent care setting reassuring. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are at all-time highs in the United States. Combined, there were 300,000 new cases diagnosed last year. Per CDC guidelines, sexually active women under 25 should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually; men who have sex with men should be screened for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea every year. If you see patients who fall into those groups, share the CDC’s recommendations and be prepared to administer tests on the spot if the patient agrees. It may be helpful to point out that STDs may not necessarily be symptomatic in the early stages. JUCM has covered this topic in greater depth and from an urgent care perspective in STDs: Assessment and Treatment in Urgent Care and Syphilis in the Urgent Care Center.
Is Urgent Care Doing Enough—Are You Doing Enough—to Slow the Spread of STDs?