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Summary, Introduction and Methods

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010


These guidelines for the treatment of persons who have or are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were updated by CDC after consultation with a group of professionals knowledgeable in the field of STDs who met in Atlanta on April 18–30, 2009. The information in this report updates the 2006 Guidelines for Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (MMWR 2006;55[No. RR–11]). Included in these updated guidelines is new information regarding 1) the expanded diagnostic evaluation for cervicitis and trichomoniasis; 2) new treatment recommendations for bacterial vaginosis and genital warts; 3) the clinical efficacy of azithromycin for chlamydial infections in pregnancy; 4) the role of Mycoplasma genitalium and trichomoniasis in urethritis/cervicitis and treatment-related implications; 5) lymphogranuloma venereum proctocolitis among men who have sex with men; 6) the criteria for spinal fluid examination to evaluate for neurosyphilis; 7) the emergence of azithromycin-resistant Treponema pallidum; 8) the increasing prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae; 9) the sexual transmission of hepatitis C; 10) diagnostic evaluation after sexual assault; and 11) STD prevention approaches.


The term sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is used to refer to a variety of clinical syndromes caused by pathogens that can be acquired and transmitted through sexual activity. Physicians and other health-care providers play a critical role in preventing and treating STDs. These guidelines for the treatment of STDs are intended to assist with that effort. Although these guidelines emphasize treatment, prevention strategies and diagnostic recommendations also are discussed.

These recommendations should be regarded as a source of clinical guidance and not prescriptive standards; health-care providers should always consider the clinical circumstances of each person in the context of local disease prevalence. They are applicable to various patient-care settings, including family-planning clinics, private physicians’ offices, managed care organizations, and other primary-care facilities. These guidelines focus on the treatment and counseling of individual patients and do not address other community services and interventions that are essential to STD/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention efforts.


These guidelines were developed using a multistage process. Beginning in 2008, CDC staff members and public and private sector experts knowledgeable in the field of STDs systematically reviewed literature using an evidence-based approach (e.g., published abstracts and peer-reviewed journal articles), focusing on the common STDs and information that had become available since publication of the 2006 Guidelines for Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (1). CDC staff members and STD experts developed background papers and tables of evidence that summarized the type of study (e.g., randomized controlled trial or case series), study population and setting, treatments or other interventions, outcome measures assessed, reported findings, and weaknesses and biases in study design and analysis. CDC staff then developed a draft document on the basis of this evidence-based review. In April 2009, this information was presented at a meeting of invited consultants (including public- and private-sector professionals knowledgeable in the treatment of patients with STDs), where all evidence from the literature reviews pertaining to STD management was discussed.

Specifically, participants identified key questions regarding STD treatment that emerged from the literature reviews and discussed the information available to answer those questions. Discussion focused on four principal outcomes of STD therapy for each individual disease: 1) treatment of infection based on microbiologic eradication; 2) alleviation of signs and symptoms; 3) prevention of sequelae; and 4) prevention of transmission. Cost-effectiveness and other advantages (e.g., single-dose formulations and directly observed therapy [DOT]) of specific regimens also were discussed. The consultants then assessed whether the questions identified were relevant, ranked them in order of priority, and answered the questions using the available evidence. In addition, the consultants evaluated the quality of evidence supporting the answers on the basis of the number, type, and quality of the studies.

The sections on hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections are based on previously published recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) (2-4). The recommendations for STD screening during pregnancy and cervical cancer screening were developed after CDC staff reviewed the published recommendations from other professional organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and ACIP.

Throughout this report, the evidence used as the basis for specific recommendations is discussed briefly. More comprehensive, annotated discussions of such evidence will appear in background papers that will be published in a supplement issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. When more than one therapeutic regimen is recommended, the sequence is alphabetized unless the choices for therapy are prioritized based on efficacy, convenience, or cost. For those infections with more than one recommended regimen, almost all regimens have similar efficacy and similar rates of intolerance or toxicity unless otherwise specified. Recommended regimens should be used primarily; alternative regimens can be considered in instances of significant drug allergy or other contraindications to the recommended regimens.

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