Providers: What you do matters.
Healthcare providers, you are the protectors of health across the nation. Right now, millions are threatened by STDs as rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis continue to climb. You can help put a stop to these dangerous trends.
STD Prevention Partners: You can tailor the content on this page for healthcare providers you would like to reach in your community.
Treat Me Right focuses on the relationship between provider and patient. The campaign encourages patients to take control of their health by asking you for what they need. What does that mean for providers? We’re arming you with the tools you need to treat your patients right—from detecting an infection and selecting the correct treatment regimen to engaging with your patients in a way that makes them feel heard and respected.
Patients come in all sizes, shapes, sexual orientations, and cultural backgrounds. Delivering care that is aware of—and not biased by—these differences is what takes your care from good to great. Cultural competency trainings are availableExternal.
Take A Sexual History
Treating your patients right starts with taking a thorough sexual historyCdc-pdfExternal. It is an important part of a patient’s overall medical history and allows you to make informed clinical decisions.
These conversations also help to normalize and destigmatize discussions around sex. One way to discreetly introduce the topic of sexual health is by incorporating it into your patient questionnaires prior to the visit.
A list of essential sexual health questionsCdc-pdfExternal is available. At minimum you should assess the sex of your patient’s sex partner(s), your patient’s number of current sex partners, and their anatomic sites of exposure based on the type of sexual activity they are engaging in.
Test and Treat
- Help foster trust with your patient before their visit even starts by creating a welcoming and inclusive clinic or office environment. For example, you can use these tips to make your office teen-friendlyCdc-pdfExternal.
- Make sure your patients are comfortable and in a private space, especially before asking sensitive questions; this includes assuring patients that their confidentiality is being protected by everyone in your office.
- Help normalize sexual health questions and STD/HIV testing recommendations by letting your patients know that you ask these questions and offer these services “to all my patients, as sexual health is a normal part of a person’s overall health and well-being.”
- Avoid making assumptions about your patients; asking is the only way to know for sure. Standardize sexual orientation/gender identity (SOGI) questions, and use open-ended questions when taking a sexual history.
- If your patient is hesitant to answer a question, try rephrasing it or briefly explain why you are asking it.
- Ensure that you and your patient share an understanding of the terms being used to avoid confusion.
Once a patient has been tested, make sure they know how they will get their test results.
In addition, treat your patients right by following CDC’s STD Treatment Guidelines when they are diagnosed with an STD. Also remember that the only recommended treatment for syphilis is injectable long-acting benzathine penicillin G.
Verify that your patient’s partners are tested and treated, too. Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) may be an option in cases where a patient’s partner is unwilling or unable to access care. EPT is the clinical practice of treating the sex partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea by providing prescriptions or medications to the patient to take to their partner who is unable to seek timely treatment.
Reinfection is common for some STDs. Encourage your patients to return for follow-up testing in three months.
Treating your patient right is more than simply testing and treating them. You should also encourage risk reduction by providing prevention counseling. Prevention counseling should be offered to all sexually active adolescents and to adults at increased risk for STDs (e.g., patients who have received an STD diagnosis, had an STD in the past year, or have multiple sexual partners).
Did you know?
Counseling is typically included in the preventive medicine CPT codesCdc-pdfExternal. Medicare covers up to two individual 20-30 minute, face-to-face, high-intensity behavioral counseling sessions per year for sexually active adults at increased risk for STDs.