Websites covering STIs - Part two

Websites related to this week's Clinical Review selected by Dr Keith Barnard.

CHLAMYDIA SCREENING

This site is only for England. If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, my apologies - your respective executives are still considering such a programme, or so the Health Protection Agency says. I'm not sure why the DoH call their plan a 'national screening programme'.

I thought all four home countries constituted the nation. But semantics aside, the programme for chlamydia screening was included in the DoH's national strategy for sexual health and HIV.

Ten opportunistic screening programmes were implemented in 2002, with a further 16 programmes announced in January 2004, and there is now coverage of over 25 per cent of PCTs in England. There are reports to tell you how it is all going, and maps of England (with the other parts of the 'nation' conspicuously missing), and one for London.

Why go there: all the information is here.

Downside: very long address.

Information from: DoH.

Address: www.dh.gov.uk/PolicyAndGuidance/HealthAndSocialCareTopics/SexualHealth/S exualHealthGeneralInformation/SexualHealthGeneralArticle/fs/en?CONTENT_I D=4084098&chk=CSLxsK

GENITAL HERPES

The internet is top-heavy with sites aimed at the vast public market.

This is certainly true of genital herpes, where advice and miracle cure sites exceed two million.

This site is UK-based (in West Sussex), authoritative and is aimed at the medically qualified.

One of the most useful areas concerns the management of genital herpes in primary care.

The decision about when to use these expensive but effective drugs will be much clearer after reading this five-page PDF that contains clear flow charts and algorithms.

Why go there: a rare professionals-only site on this topic.

Downside: yet again, a complaint about lack of images.

Information from: The International Herpes Management Forum.

Address: www.ihmf.org/Library/monograph/s_10.pdf

PATIENT INFORMATION

This website provides sober and calm advice to patients about sexual health problems, which I prefer to the more in-your-face approach of some other organisations.

Maybe I'm behind the times, but surely not everyone wants to be virtually shouted at in headline-style colloquial English, accompanied by garish colours.

This address will take you to a page that lists the most commonly encountered STIs, explains what an STI is, how to suspect you might have one and has some encouraging words about treatment.

Each condition is then approached in more detail.

Why go there: sensible, well-presented advice.

Downside: another plea for pictures.

Information from: Family Planning Association.

Address: www.fpa.org.uk/guide/infectns/index.htm

- Dr Barnard is a former GP in Fareham, Hampshire

- Clinical Review, page 53

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

It is in one sense amazing and another sad (because there is no UK equivalent), that to get good images and straightforward information for health professionals about STIs you have to go to the other side of the planet.

This site is streets ahead of anything else I found. I was looking for images of syphilis, mainly because this condition, which became something of a curiosity in the second half of the 20th century, is now rearing its ugly head again.

Many years ago, when working in Singapore, I saw more than enough of this disease, but many younger GPs will never have seen chancre or the rash of secondary syphilis. This helps you make a diagnosis of many STIs, including syphilis, and the all-important high- quality images are available throughout.

There are also management guidelines, but these are large documents and reflect Australian policy, which is the only weakness of this recommended site.

Why go there: it has almost everything.

Downside: none.

Information from: Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.

Address: www.mshc.org.au/professional/content_prof. cfm?categoryId=101&topicId=103&infopageid=295.

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