Screening for sexually transmitted infections in substance abuse treatment programs

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003 May 1;70(1):93-9. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(02)00361-7.


Objectives: We evaluated the prevalence of the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) chlamydia and gonorrhea in clients at a methadone maintenance program and a residential detoxification program.

Methods: We collected urine specimens for chlamydia and gonorrhea ligase chain reaction testing and assessed sexual, substance abuse and STI histories.

Results: Of 700 subject assessments, 490 occurred among detoxification clients and 210 in methadone maintenance. Chlamydia trachomatis was detected in 5/700 (0.9, 95% CI=0.1-1.8%) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae in none. All chlamydia infected subjects were recruited from the detoxification program. Subjects reported high risk sexual behavior: 17% reported commercial sex exchange, and 22% reported inconsistent condom use with multiple sexual partners during the prior 2 months.

Conclusion: Based on prevalence in Boston, MA, universal screening for STI in substance abuse treatments programs is not warranted. However, routine screening for younger substance abusers and in communities with high prevalence should be considered.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Prevalence
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / urine
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / urine


  • Methadone