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Patients have renewed interest in STI exams after post-Covid spike


Primary care physicians should be aware that patients have a renewed interest in STI-related appointments following a spike in STIs post-Covid.

Primary care physicians are being urged to encourage their patients to take a renewed interest in their sexual health after a report showed a spike in STI cases following Covid-19 lockdowns in 2022. According to experts, STI screenings were put off during the pandemic as patients prioritized other health care appointments.

The Zocdoc report, released ahead of CDC's STI Awareness Week, shows that patients have started to book more STI appointments in 2023. Zocdoc appointment booking data revealed that bookings in the first half of March 2023 were 26% higher than the same period in 2022.

The report also highlights a demographic divide, with men being more proactive about checking their sexual health than women. Millennials and Gen Z patients booked the most STI appointments, with patients in their 20s booking nearly twice as many appointments as those in their 30s. Meanwhile, seniors (65+) made up less than 1% of the bookings.

Genital warts caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) were the most common STI issue, accounting for 24% of all bookings. Genital herpes, HIV/AIDS, HPV, and hepatitis were also among the most commonly reported STIs.

Patients in Atlanta were found to be the most proactive about their sexual health, with the highest rate of STI bookings per patient. In contrast, patients in Boston, Charlotte, NC, San Francisco, and Nashville had some of the lowest booking rates.

Primary care physicians are encouraged to promote STI screenings and provide education on safe sex practices to help reduce the spread of STIs. CDC's STI Awareness Week runs through April 15th and provides a timely opportunity for health care providers to engage with their patients on this important issue.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health