Clinicians can help prevent sexually transmitted infections by providing behavioral counseling to all sexually active teenagers and adults who are at increased risk for STIs, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force said in a draft recommendation today.
The recommendation comes several weeks after the CDC announced that around 2.4 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in the United States last year, making it the fifth straight record-breaking year for STIs in the United States.
With the draft recommendation, “we have the potential to reduce new STI cases by up to a third,” Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH, task force member, told Healio Primary Care.
Simon, who is also vice chair for clinical research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University, added, “we’re hopeful that this draft recommendation will continue to encourage clinicians to have these critical conversations with their patients, and then provide this counseling directly or refer those in need to counseling interventions that can help them stay healthy.”
The USPSTF also identified several areas where more research would be helpful:
- information on teenagers who are not sexually active; sexually active boys; pregnant women; gay, bisexual or transgender persons; and older adults who are at higher risk for STIs;
- interventions that engage couples or sex partners of primary care patients;
- trials that follow participants for more than 12 months; and
- interventions that could extend group counseling to remote participants (such as interactive telemedicine).
Comments on the draft “B” grade recommendation can be submitted from now until Jan. 21, 2020, at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/tfcomment.htm. According to the USPSTF recommendation statement, the draft recommendation differs from the previous 2014 USPSTF recommendation in just one way: behavioral counseling sessions can be less than 30 minutes; before the total contact time was considered 30 minutes or more. – by Janel Miller
Disclosure: Simon reports no relevant financial disclosures.