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[EDITOR'S NOTES]

STDs: Part of Primary Care Sports Medicine

THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 25 - NO. 1 - JANUARY 97


A recent front-page headline of the American Medical News read, "STDs a 'hidden epidemic': US rate highest in world; knowledge, awareness lag (1)." The article cited a new report by the Institute of Medicine that says the United States has the highest rate of curable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among the developed countries, and that physicians are the key to combating this epidemic.

Many of your sports medicine patients are probably in the high school, college, and twenty-something age range—the group most at risk for STDs. You are often the only doctor they see—maybe just for a preparticipation physical.

Although about a quarter of the 12 million new STD cases reported each year occur in adolescents (1), your local school board is probably not enthusiastic about including written questions about sexual activity or STDs on a student's sports history form. But giving young athletes the opportunity to bring up their concerns and arrange for treatment is important. If you see patients in a private setting, you have probably heard something like, "Since I'm here, I'd like to talk about a-uhh-sort of problem."

You can also take the lead. The authors of the monograph Preparticipation Physical Evaluation (2) suggest the opening, "Do you have any other concerns you would like to discuss?" That can sometimes get a kid talking.

In this issue of the The Physician and Sportsmedicine, James Clark, MD, updates us on the diagnosis and treatment of STDs. As you treat STDs in young, physically active patients—and their older counterparts—you are practicing primary care sports medicine.

Cordially,
Richard H. Strauss, MD
Editor-in-Chief

P.S. Check this issue for other primary care articles. Read it cover to cover, and whether your active patients are faced with hypothyroidism, psychoactive drug effects, or low-back pain, you'll be on the leading edge.

References

  1. Shelton DL: STDs a 'hidden epidemic': US rate highest in world; knowledge, awareness lag. Am Med News 1996;39 (46):1
  2. American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, et al: Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, ed 2. Minneapolis, McGraw-Hill, 1997

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