Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing of HIV-Positive Medicare and Medicaid Enrollees Falls Short of Guidelines

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BackgroundMen who have sex with men with HIV have high sexually transmitted infection (STI) incidence. Thus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least yearly STI screening of HIV-infected individuals.MethodsWe calculated testing rates for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea among HIV-positive Californians with Medicare or Medicaid insurance in 2010. Logistic regressions estimated how testing for each bacterial STI relates to demographic and provider factors.ResultsFewer than two-thirds of HIV-positive Medicare and fewer than three-quarters of Medicaid enrollees received a syphilis test in 2010. Screenings for chlamydia or gonorrhea were less frequent: approximately 30% of Medicare enrollees were tested for chlamydia or gonorrhea in 2010, but higher proportions of Medicaid enrollees were tested (45%–46%). Only 34% of HIV-positive Medicare enrollees who were tested for syphilis were also screened for chlamydia or gonorrhea on the same day. Nearly half of Medicaid enrollees were tested for all 3 STIs on the same day. Patients whose providers had more HIV experience had higher STI testing rates.ConclusionsTesting rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea infection are low, despite the increase in these infections among people living with HIV and their close association with HIV transmission. Interventions to increase STI testing include the following: prompts in the medical record to routinely conduct syphilis testing on blood drawn for viral load monitoring, opt-out consent for STI testing, and provider education about the clinical importance of STIs among HIV-positive patients. Last, it is crucial to change financial incentives that discourage nucleic acid amplification testing for rectal chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.

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