OBJECTIVE: This study sought to estimate the prevalence of non-HIV
sexually transmitted diseases among patients admitted to a psychiatric
emergency service and to identify characteristics that might place members
of this population at increased risk of acquiring these diseases. METHODS:
Hospital medical records and records of public health departments' venereal
disease control sections were retrospectively reviewed to determine if
patients consecutively admitted to a psychiatric emergency service at a
large urban public hospital had been tested for syphilis, gonorrhea,
trichomonas, chlamydia, or herpes simplex in the 12 months before admission
and whether the tests were positive. Data on patients' demographic and
clinical characteristics were also collected. RESULTS: Of 426 consecutive
patients studied, 214 (50.2 percent) were tested for one or more non-HIV
sexually transmitted diseases. Forty of those patients (18.7 percent) had
positive tests. The rates of syphilis and gonorrhea among the patients were
significantly higher than those estimated for the city and state where the
study was done and significantly higher than the national estimate.
Patients whose tests were positive did not differ significantly from those
with negative tests in presenting psychiatric symptoms or diagnosis.
CONCLUSIONS: An alarmingly high rate of non-HIV sexually transmitted
diseases was found among patients treated in a psychiatric emergency
service. However, no particular clinical subpopulations at increased risk
for acquisition of these diseases could be identified.