Effective management of STI is one of the cornerstones of STI control, as it prevents the development of complications and sequelae, decreases the spread of these diseases in the community and offers a unique opportunity for targeted education about HIV prevention. Appropriate treatment of STI patients at their first encounter with a health care provider is, therefore, an important public health measure. When this involves adolescent1 patients, there is the potential to influence future sexual behaviour and treatment-seeking practices at a critical stage of development.
1 WHO has defined adolescents as persons in the 10-19 years age group, while youth has been defined as the 15-24 years age group. "Young people" is a combination of these two overlapping groups covering the range 10-24 years (A Picture of Health: A review and annotated bibliography of the health of young people in developing countries (1995), UNICEF, WHO).
The use of appropriate standardized protocols is strongly recommended in order to ensure adequate treatment at all levels of the health service. Such standardized treatment also facilitates the training and supervision of health providers, delays the development of antimicrobial resistance in sexually transmitted agents such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae) and Haemophilus ducreyi (H. ducreyi), and is an important factor in rational drug procurement.
It is anticipated that the following recommendations will help countries to develop standardized protocols adapted to local epidemiological and antimicrobial sensitivity patterns. It is recommended that national guidelines for the effective management of STI be developed in close consultation with local STI and public health experts.