Sexually transmitted infections (STI) remain a significant public health concern.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to its most recent preliminary surveillance data (July 2022), reports an estimated 2.5 million Americans were infected with gonorrhea, chlamydia, and/or syphilis in 2021.2 Both the CDC and healthcare professionals recognize that number underestimates actual infection rates, especially for chlamydia which is frequently asymptomatic and can only be detected by proactive, routine screening.3
Left undiagnosed and untreated, STIs are associated with serious health effects, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.4, 5 Therefore, it is essential to identify the infections being missed to reverse the alarming rate of new STIs. For instance, the CDC now recommends opt-out screening with a universal approach whereby healthcare providers offer chlamydia and gonorrhea testing to adolescent and young adult females regardless of their reported sexual activity.6 This approach has been shown to reduce the total prevalence of STI infections, the related sequelae and also substantially lower the costs in contrast to risk-based screening, which has been the status quo.7
Learn more about what laboratory professionals can do to support initiatives like opt-out screening with a universal approach to help reverse the rising rate of STIs in this article by Drs. Christina A. Muzny and Jennifer Balkus in Medical Laboratory Observer.