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Improving Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening in Primary Care

Statement of Problem

While sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common across people’s lifespans, they are particularly prolific in the adolescent population. About half of all new STIs reported each year are among young people between the ages of 15 to 24. If left untreated, these conditions have the potential to impact not only an individual’s health, but that of their partners’. Despite the availability of treatment, adolescents’ sexual health needs often go because of a reluctance to discuss them with a health care provider or lack of awareness that they are infected.

One important way to expand access to STI treatment is to routinely screen adolescents in primary care practices. For example, annual screening for chlamydia can lead to a 30-50 percent reduction in the incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease, which is common in patients with chlamydia. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology all recommend annual chlamydia screening of sexually active young women, however compliance with this recommendation is low. Screening for sexual health conditions is just as important as a physical or vaccination, so incorporating it into standard procedure for a well-visit is a logical step to promote adolescent health.


Next Steps

We will continue to evaluate and refine our universal urine collection process and conduct formal data analyses. The hope is that moving forward, this intervention can inform how we deliver STI screening in primary care practices across the network. In 2019, we were awarded a PolicyLab pilot grant to identify patient, clinic and geographic disparities in chlamydia screening for adolescent females. The data from this study will hopefully allow us to better understand the sexual health needs of the patients we serve throughout the region and inform policy and practice solutions that help them transition into healthy, productive adults.

This project page was last updated in February 2020.

Suggested Citation

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab. Improving Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening in Primary Care [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: plug in date accessed here]. 

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