News

Web-Based Tool Makes Patient STD Screening Accessible


 

ESTES PARK, COLO — The STD Wizard is a patient-friendly Internet tool for determining individual STD screening needs that is a particularly good fit for busy primary care medical practices.

“I would recommend this site to your patients,” Dr. L. Chesney Thompson said at a conference on internal medicine sponsored by the University of Colorado.

The STD Wizard (www.stdwizard.org

The Wizard is not a diagnostic tool; instead it analyzes an individual's answers and produces customized recommendations for STD screening. Patients are encouraged to print out the summary and bring it to their physician for action, explained Dr. Thompson, chief of the section of general ob.gyn. at the university.

The STD Wizard's recommendations are based on the 2006 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/std

The Wizard was developed and funded by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health and the CDC. The goal is to help rein in the nation's STD epidemic by reaching out to the public in a novel way to encourage greater use of guideline-recommended screening. The idea is to take the screening guidelines directly to the public in an accessible way.

By CDC estimates, 19 million new cases of STDs occur annually in the U.S., nearly half in 15- to 24-year-olds. But that 19-million figure is “a woeful underestimate,” according to Dr. Thompson.

“Half of the population—that is, males—aren't screened at all for HPV. Herpes simplex virus isn't screened for or reported, either. And those are probably the two most common STDs; 80% of women in this country will have been exposed to HPV by age 50,” he noted.

Five of the top 10 reportable diseases in the U.S. are STDs. Chlamydia is the most common reportable STD, with roughly 3 million new cases a year. The CDC recommends annual screening for Chlamydia infection in all sexually active females aged 25 years or less, and routine screening of women over age 25 who have risk factors, such as new or multiple partners.

When a patient is diagnosed with one STD, it's worthwhile to consider casting a broader net and screening for others, in his view. This might involve screening for the major reportable ones—gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia, chancroid, and HIV—along with hepatitis B and C and herpes simplex.

The STD Wizard involves a 5-minute online questionnaire with simple multiple-choice questions.

Source DR. THOMPSON

Next Article: