STD syndrome packets: Improving syndromic management of sexually transmitted diseases in developing countries

David Wilkinson*, Abigail Harrison, Mark Lurie, Salim S. Abdool Karim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To design, introduce, and evaluate 'STD syndrome packets' containing recommended drugs for each syndrome, four condoms, a partner treatment card, and a patient information leaflet, with the goal of improving sexually transmitted disease (STD) case management. Methods: Packet design evolved around available packaging technology, informed by pilot testing with nurses working in primary care clinics, doctors in private medical practices, and patients with an STD, in Hlabisa, South Africa. Evaluation 1 year later included analysis of distribution records and interviews with 16 nurses and 64 patients. Results: A cheap packet (2 U.S. cents each, excluding contents) compatible with current legislation was designed and introduced to six public sector clinics and as a short pilot to five private medical practices. Four thousand eighty-five packets were distributed to the clinics, equivalent to approximately 115% of the STDs reported over that period. All 16 nurses reported using the packets, but only 63% did so all the time because of occasional supply problems. All believed the packets improved treatment by saving time (75%), improving supply of condoms and partner cards (44%), and making treatment easier (56%). Patients also responded positively, and most said they would buy a packet (up to $5) at a pharmacy (84%) or store (63%) if available. Conclusions: The STD syndrome packets have the potential to improve STD syndromic management by standardizing therapy and improving the supply of condoms, partner cards, and information leaflets. Packets are popular with practitioners and patients, but consistent supply is essential for maximal impact. There may be scope for social marketing of the packets, which could further increase use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-156
Number of pages5
JournalSexually Transmitted Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes


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