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The 'Other STDs': Do They Really Matter?

Willard Cates Jr, MD, MPH
JAMA. 1988;259(24):3606-3608. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720240068037.
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ACQUIRED immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)—it seems to dominate all else. Do the other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) matter? Whatever happened to gonorrhea... or syphilis? How about infection with chlamydia, which has hardly had a well-earned day in court? Does anyone remember herpes? Even concerns about human papilloma-virus causing cervical cancer cannot rally much enthusiasm.

The other STDs clearly do matter... in fact, they matter more today than ever before. In this commentary, I contend that we create a false dichotomy between AIDS and the other STDs by considering them separately—a dichotomy that does more harm than good by detracting from the commonality of primary/secondary STD prevention activities. These activities taken together should ultimately potentiate reduction of all STDs, not just human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydial infection, or any of the others.

Why should we use a common approach for all STDs, including HIV infection? For simplicity, I will


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