July 24 (UPI) -- Few young women with pelvic inflammatory disease are being tested for syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus in emergency departments despite the heightened risk, according to a new study.
Children's National Health System researchers studied data from 48 hospitals across the nation from 2010 through 2015. Their findings on PID, an infection of a woman's reproductive organs that can complicate an ability to get pregnant and can cause infertility, were published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics.
If untreated, a sexually transmitted infection can cause PID.
"We know that 20 percent of the nearly 1 million cases of PID that are diagnosed each year occur in young women, with the majority of diagnoses made in EDs," senior author Dr. Monika K. Goyal, an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine in the national system, said in a press release. "It is encouraging that HIV and syphilis screening rates for women with PID increased over the study period. However, our findings point to missed opportunities to safeguard young women's reproductive health."
She added hospitals need a standardized approach in sexually transmitted infection screening.
"Future research should examine how STI screening can be improved in emergency departments, especially since adolescents at high risk for STIs often access health care through EDs," Goval said. "We also should explore innovative approaches, including electronic alerts and shared decision-making to boost STI screening rates for young women."
According to data from the Pediatric Health Information System, there were 10,698 diagnosed cases of PID among women aged 12 to 21 during the five-year time frame. Just 27.7 percent underwent syphilis screening, 22 percent for HIV and 18.4 percent underwent lab testing for HIV and syphilis.
The hospitals ranged from 2 percent for the women to more than 60 percent.
More likely to be screened for HIV or syphilis were women admitted to the hospital, uninsured women, non-Latino African-American women, women on public insurance and girls aged 12 to 16. And women going to small hospitals were also more likely to be screened for HIV.