Many STD Patients Re-Infected Within Months
November 16, 2006
A new report suggests that many patients treated for STDs soon become re-infected. "These infections are often asymptomatic, and that's why we need to do re-screening," said Dr. Thomas A. Peterman, a CDC researcher and the lead author of the study.
Peterman and colleagues based their study on an evaluation of 2,419 patients treated at one of three urban STD clinics. The men were diagnosed with either chlamydia or gonorrhea. The women were diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea or vaginal trichomoniasis. The team followed the patients for one year and retested them every three months for the STDs.
During follow-up, the researchers found that 25.6 percent of the women developed a new STD infection -- either the same one or one of the other two. Among the male subjects, 14.7 percent became newly infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea. The re-infection risk was high at the first screening and remained high throughout follow-up.
CDC recommends that women diagnosed with chlamydia be rescreened three months later. Peterman said the study's findings suggest such rescreenings are also appropriate for men with chlamydia, and men and women with gonorrhea should be routinely retested. Peterman said he was slightly more hesitant to recommend retesting for women with trichomoniasis, as the overall evidence for this it is not as strong.
Peterman cautioned that two-thirds of those who became infected with an STD showed no symptoms, meaning patients should not assume they are uninfected. The authors also noted the critical importance of treating patients' partners to avoid re-infection.
The study, "High Incidence of New Sexually Transmitted Infections in the Year Following a Sexually Transmitted Infection: A Case for Rescreening," was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2006;145(8):564-572).
10.17.2006; Amy Norton
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.