Background: The impending expansion of health insurance to historically uninsured populations has led many to question the future necessity and utility of public health STD clinics. The aim of this study is to assess treatment completion and time to treatment differences among primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis cases attending public STD clinics and private providers in Maricopa and Pima Counties from 2009 to 2012.
Methods: Cases of treated primary and secondary syphilis (P&S) among Maricopa and Pima County residents were identified for the years of 2009 to 2012 form the Arizona Department of Health Services STD surveillance database. Cases were grouped based on classification of their screening and treatment providers into the following categories: (1) screened and treated at the Maricopa County STD Clinic or Teresa E. Lee STD Clinic, (2) screened privately, but treated at one of the aforementioned public clinics, and (3) privately treated cases. Time to treatment was defined as the number of days from specimen collection to treatment administration. Differences in the average time to treatment between groups were assessed using ANOVA.
Results: There were 884 cases of P&S reported during 2009-2012 from these counties. Average time to treatment was lowest among cases screened and treated at the public STD clinics in Maricopa and Pima counties (1.5 days vs. 9.6 and 6.3 days), (F=81.63, p < 0.0001). Among P&S cases the first two categories designating treatment at the STD clinics, 100 (%) reported treatment, compared to 84 (%) of patients tested and treated at private facilities.
Conclusions: Treatment completion was higher and time to treatment was shorter for P&S cases treated in public STD clinics. In Arizona, these clinics play a significant role in the expedited treatment of primary and secondary syphilis, which is essential in the prevention of disease transmission among exposed persons and disease transmission among those that are infected.