The efficacy of clinic-based interventions aimed at increasing screening for bacterial sexually transmitted infections among men who have sex with men: a systematic review

Sex Transm Dis. 2012 May;39(5):382-7. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e318248e3ff.


Background: In many countries, the prevalence of bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among men who have sex with men (MSM) is high. We undertook a systematic review to identify clinic-based strategies for increasing screening and detection of bacterial STIs among MSM.

Methods: We reviewed studies that compared screening for or detection of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis in the presence and the absence of an intervention. The primary end points were STI screening, rescreening, or detection rates.

Results: Of 1809 studies identified, 8 fulfilled the inclusion criteria; of these, 4 studies demonstrated significant increases in screening rates for gonorrhea and chlamydia using different strategies (odds ratio range, 1.4-1.9). These included the following: use of a computer alert on an electronic medical record; the introduction of clinic guidelines on STI screening; and short text messaging reminders for repeat STI screening. A further 4 studies demonstrated increases in syphilis testing (odds ratio range, 2.3-21.4), with increased detection of asymptomatic early syphilis in 2 studies. Strategies used included regular serological screening for syphilis during routine human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care, syphilis serology included with blood tests performed as part of HIV monitoring, use of a computer alert on an electronic medical record, and an electronic medical record system to enhance syphilis retesting after syphilis treatment.

Conclusions: A range of interventions has been used, including the application of newer technologies targeting clinicians and patients that appear to be efficacious at increasing screening of MSM for bacterial STIs. Wider application of such interventions could improve STI screening and control in this high-risk population.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Chlamydia Infections / diagnosis
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology*
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Syphilis / diagnosis
  • Syphilis / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology