Bacterial sexually transmitted infections among HIV-infected patients in the United States: estimates from the Medical Monitoring Project

Sex Transm Dis. 2015 Apr;42(4):171-9. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000260.


Background: Bacterial sexually transmitted infections may facilitate HIV transmission. Bacterial sexually transmitted infection testing is recommended for sexually active HIV-infected patients annually and more frequently for those at elevated sexual risk. We estimated percentages of HIV-infected patients in the United States receiving at least one syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia test, and repeat (≥2 tests, ≥3 months apart) tests for any of these sexually transmitted infections from mid-2008 through mid-2010.

Design: The Medical Monitoring Project collects behavioral and clinical characteristics of HIV-infected adults receiving medical care in the United States using nationally representative sampling.

Methods: Sexual activity included self-reported oral, vaginal, or anal sex in the past 12 months. Participants reporting more than 1 sexual partner or illicit drug use before/during sex in the past year were classified as having elevated sexual risk. Among participants with only 1 sex partner and no drug use before/during sex, those reporting consistent condom use were classified as low risk; those reporting sex without a condom (or for whom this was unknown) were classified as at elevated sexual risk only if they considered their sex partner to be a casual partner, or if their partner was HIV-negative or partner HIV status was unknown. Bacterial sexually transmitted infection testing was ascertained through medical record abstraction.

Results: Among sexually active patients, 55% were tested at least once in 12 months for syphilis, whereas 23% and 24% received at least one gonorrhea and chlamydia test, respectively. Syphilis testing did not vary by sex/sexual orientation. Receipt of at least 3 CD4+ T-lymphocyte cell counts and/or HIV viral load tests in 12 months was associated with syphilis testing in men who have sex with men (MSM), men who have sex with women only, and women. Chlamydia testing was significantly higher in sexually active women (30%) compared with men who have sex with women only (19%), but not compared with MSM (22%). Forty-six percent of MSM were at elevated sexual risk; 26% of these MSM received repeat syphilis testing, whereas repeat testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia was only 7% for each infection.

Conclusions: Bacterial sexually transmitted infection testing among sexually active HIV-infected patients was low, particularly for those at elevated sexual risk. Patient encounters in which CD4+ T-lymphocyte cell counts and/or HIV viral load testing occurs present opportunities for increased bacterial sexually transmitted infection testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / etiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Reminder Systems
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior* / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Bacterial / epidemiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Bacterial / etiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Bacterial / prevention & control
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Bacterial / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Viral Load / statistics & numerical data