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Preventive Care

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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that at-risk men and women be screened for certain sexually transmitted infections

Since 2000, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has published eight clinical recommendations for sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening based on systematic reviews of the evidence. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality researchers, David Meyers, M.D., and Tracy Wolff, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues recently provided an overview of these recommendations.

The USPSTF recommends that women at increased risk of infection (those who engage in high-risk sexual behaviors such as having multiple current partners, having unprotected sex, or having sex in exchange for money or drugs) be screened for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis. Men at increased risk should be screened for HIV and syphilis. The USPSTF recommends that pregnant women be screened for hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis. Pregnant women at increased risk for STIs should be additionally screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

The USPSTF also recommends that all sexually active women younger than 25 years be considered at increased risk for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Nonpregnant women and men, who are not at increased risk for STIs, do not require routine screening for STIs. Because not all communities present equal risk of STIs, the USPSTF encourages doctors to consider expanding or limiting the routine STI screening they provide based on their community and populations they serve.

Almost all USPSTF recommendations on STI screening agree with those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

See "USPSTF recommendations for STI screening," by Drs. Meyers and Wolff, Kimberly Gregory, M.D., M.P.H., and others in the March 15, 2008, American Family Physician 77(6), pp. 819-824.

Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 08-R056) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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