The management of sexually transmitted infections: A scoping survey in primary care

Jayshree Dave*, John Paul, Julie Johnson, Jane Hutchinson, Glenn Phiri, Asha Dave, Neville Verlander, David Carrington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: National guidelines for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in primary care exists but their management is uncertain. Aim: To assess the management of STIs against national standards in primary care. Design & setting: A questionnaire based study in London and Brighton. The survey was conducted in 2015 following reorganisation of sexual health services in England. Method: Questionnaires were sent to GPs in London and Brighton about testing for STIs, treatment for gonorrhoea, specialist advice, and referral services. Results: Of 119 GPs who responded, most expressed confidence in treating chlamydia (n = 105/119, 88%), trichomonas (n = 81/119, 68%), and herpes (n = 82/119, 69%) but not gonorrhoea (n = 32/119, 27%). Most referred cases of syphilis (n = 92/119, 77%) and genital warts (83/119, 70%) to genitourinary medicine (GUM) as per guidance. Most GPs tested for gonorrhoea on patient request (n = 95/119, 80%), in tandem with chlamydia screening (n = 89/119, 75%), because of high risk status (n = 85/119, 71%) and genital symptoms (n = 108/119, 91%). Some GPs (n = 22/119, 18%) sampled urine for culture, 53/119 (45%) provided high vaginal swabs (HVS), and 28/119 (24%) provided selftaken vulvovaginal swabs (STVVS) for culture. These samples are not appropriate for gonococcal culture and not processed in the laboratory. Urethral swabs for men and endocervical swabs (ECS) are recommended for gonococcus culture. Over half (n = 60/102, 59%) of GPs did not treat gonorrhoea but some prescribed cefixime, ciprofloxacin, or azithromycin. Eighty-seven per cent (n = 104/119) sought advice from GUM, and 83/103 (81%) referred gonorrhoea nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)-positive patients. Conclusion: There is scope for improvement of STIs management in primary care to ensure that patients are optimally investigated, treated, and referred.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBJGP Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Authors.


  • Antibiotics
  • Diagnosis
  • General practice
  • General practitioners
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Treatment


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