UK National Audit of Early Syphilis Management. Case-notes audit: contact tracing, information giving, follow-up and outcomes

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Contact tracing was provided for 683/781 (87%, regional range 57–97%) cases, and identified 997 traceable contacts of whom 511 (51%) were seen, short of the recommended standard of 60%. However, the performance range for this standard was 26–70%, with seven regions achieving 60% or more. Of 511, 215 (42%, range 3–73%) contacts had syphilis. Treatment completion was recorded for 691 (88%, range 71–100%) cases, and resolution of lesions for 348/469 (74%, range 40–96%) cases. Nationally, 419/764 (55%, range 37–70%) cases were recorded as having a two dilution (four-fold) or greater decrease in non-treponemal test titre within 3–6 months after treatment; not achieving this titre decrease was mainly attributable to non-attendance for follow-up and failure of titre levels to fall. Follow-up of infectious syphilis in UK genitourinary medicine clinics is poor and falls far short of that recommended by National Guidelines. Only 16 (2%) cases had follow-up at intervals approximating to 1, 2, 3, 6 and 12 months, and only 312 (40%, range 5–61%) cases attended at least two follow-up visits. Only 17 (7%) of all 236 oral treatments (including switches to oral treatment), and 33 (27%) of 123 cases with HIV infection were recorded as designated annual follow-up. Further work is needed to determine factors that account for the wide variation between regions in contact tracing and follow-up performance.

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