Unsuspected gonorrhea and chlamydia in patients of an urban adult emergency department: a critical population for STD control intervention

Sex Transm Dis. 2001 Jan;28(1):33-9. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200101000-00008.


Background: Urban emergency departments (EDs) providing services to patients at high risk for sexually transmitted infection may be logical sites for intervention.

Goal: To determine the prevalence of gonorrhea (GC) and chlamydia (CT) in an adult ED patient population, and to assess risk factors for infection.

Study design: Cross-sectional study of patients aged 18 to 44 in an urban ED, seeking care of any medical nature. Main outcome was positive for GC or CT by urine ligase chain reaction assay.

Results: Test results for GC and/or CT were positive in 13.6% of 434 18 to 31 year-olds and in 1.8% of 221 32 to 44 year-olds. Of 63 infected individuals identified by the study, 15 (23.8%) were treated at the ED visit. Age < or =31 detected 88% of infections. Among 18- to 31-year-old patients, predictive risk factors by multivariate analysis included age <25, >1 sex partner in the past 90 days, and a history of sexually transmitted disease.

Conclusion: This study identified a high prevalence of GC and CT in patients seeking ED services. Many of these infections were clinically unsuspected. These data demonstrate that the ED is a high-risk setting and may be an appropriate site for routine GC and CT screening in 18- to 31-year-old patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology*
  • Chlamydia Infections / prevention & control
  • Chlamydia Infections / therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology*
  • Gonorrhea / prevention & control
  • Gonorrhea / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sexual Partners
  • Urban Health
  • Urine / microbiology