April 2, 2019
RIDOH's RIghtTime sexual health app, CDC campaign,
to address surging STD rates in Rhode Island and nationwide
In observance of STD Awareness Month in April, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising providers about new RIDOH and CDC initiatives to address surging STD rates in Rhode Island and nationally.
The RIghtTime sexual health app
RIDOH recently launched the “RIghtTime” sexual health app
. In addition to information about HIV/STD prevention and family planning resources, the app has a secure feature for individuals diagnosed with syphilis, gonorrhea, and/or chlamydia to anonymously notify their sexual partners that they have been exposed to an STD. The exposed partner is directed to contact RIDOH or their physician with this information.
The partner notification feature is being piloted over the next few months at select provider offices. In the event a patient informs you that they received a message from the RIghtTime app, a sexual history should be obtained, followed by testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. Treat the patient according to CDC guidelines for exposed partners, as appropriate.
CDC Screening and Treatment recommendations
Current CDC STD screening and treatment recommendations (CDC’s accurate and comprehensive information about STDs
- All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
- Annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screening of all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STD.
- Syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus screening for all pregnant women, and chlamydia and gonorrhea screening for at-risk pregnant women starting early in pregnancy, with repeat testing as needed, to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
- Screening at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs including HIV (e.g., at 3-to-6-month intervals).
- Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV/STDs at least once a year.
CDC’s “Treat Me Right” campaign
CDC’s Treat Me Right campaign
suggests best practices to help providers engage in a way that makes their patients feel heard and respected, especially around sensitive issues. When patients and providers work together, it empowers individuals to take control of their sexual health, and it allows providers to more quickly diagnose and treat any infections that occur.
- Take a thorough sexual history — ask essential sexual health questions in a welcoming, relaxed tone.
- Build trust with the patient — for example, make your office teen friendly to put younger patients at ease.
- Reassure patients that their information is confidential — especially before asking sensitive questions.
- Ensure that the patient understands all terms used to avoid confusion.
- Determine which STD tests the patient needs — information from the sexual history also helps in selecting the anatomical sites that should be tested. Some patients, such as gay or bisexual men or pregnant women, may have special testing considerations.
- Follow CDC’s STD Treatment Guidelines if patients are diagnosed with an STD.
- Encourage your patients to return for follow-up testing in 3 months — reinfection is common for some STDs.