MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Pamela J. Murray, M.D., M.H.P., vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is the lead author of a policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics. The policy statement includes screening recommendations for the four most common non-viral sexually transmitted infections (STIs), chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis.

The policy statement reviews research and recommendations from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to present concise, practical, evidence-based best practices for pediatric healthcare providers.

The AAP recommends routine annual screening of all sexually active female adolescents and young adults for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Many infections are asymptomatic, so patients go untested and untreated, leading to adverse effects, such as chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, or trouble conceiving. Annual screenings may help to identify and treat undiagnosed infections before they cause serious consequences, including the spread of infection.

Non-viral sexually transmitted infection rates are highest among female adolescents and young adults. While these infections are definitively treatable with antibiotics, they often go untreated because patients are not screened. Patients may be worried about confidentiality or the cost of the test or may simply think they don’t need to be screened.

“This is an important part of care. Occasionally, it is complicated identifying whether someone has ever been sexually active, but in order to have screening be effective, we want to make sure the screening is universal. If you start being selective, you’re going to miss people who have treatable infections,” Dr. Murray said.

Previous policy statements from the AAP have addressed related topics, such as reproductive healthcare for females and male health, but no statement directly related to non-viral STI screening existed.

Within the last decade, testing for non-viral STIs has become easier and more accurate, said Murray. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) yield highly specific results from a very small sample from the patient.  

According to Murray, the policy statement is primarily to help pediatric providers identify and treat more non-viral STIs, but it may have further reaching effects. Policy statements such as this one can influence decisions about how insurance companies cover services, what is included in a routine exam, and how to protect patient confidentiality in medical records and billing.

The policy statement is issued by the Committee on Adolescence, a policy-making committee of the AAP and endorsed by AAP and by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

The full policy is available on the AAP website:

For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
sf: 07-01-14