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  • • Most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are asymptomatic. Persons with asymptomatic STDs are at risk for complications and transmission of infection to others.
  • • In some cases, screening is the only means to detect and treat infection to prevent adverse outcomes.
  • • The judicious use of screening tests relies on appreciation of disease epidemiology and accurate assessment of a patient’s sexual risk behavior.

Most sexually transmitted diseases are asymptomatic. Patients often acquire infection from sex partners who exhibit no symptoms. Persons with asymptomatic infection may develop complications or sequelae without knowledge of being infected. The epidemiology of STDs—how those diseases are distributed within a population—is not random; risk factors that include age, gender, and sexual activity dictate who is likely to be infected. Screening and timely treatment have been shown to reduce the consequences of infection. National organizations, including the US Preventive Services Task Force and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as professional medical societies, regularly review the current scientific literature and make evidence-based recommendations for STD and HIV screening. Individuals are advised to undergo STD testing not only to identify and treat asymptomatic infection (screening) but to monitor trends in the population (surveillance) and confirm a diagnosis. Table 1–1 summarizes current STD and HIV screening recommendations.

Table 1–1. Recommendations for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Screening.a

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