- Based on clinical judgment
- Least reliable method
- Single STD is typically identified
Clinical diagnosis is the traditional approach for identifying
STDs when laboratory support is not available. It relies on
a providers clinical judgment in assessing a persons
symptoms, signs and personal history. Clinical judgment is based
on personal experience and knowledge of the field, which can
vary greatly among providers. This is the least reliable approach.
The provider typically attempts to identify and treat a single
STD. However, in many instances it is not possible for even
an experienced provider to differentiate among the various infections
based only on clinical experience. Thus, the provider could
diagnose the infection incorrectly. Also, a client may have
more than one infection, and a single diagnosis even
if correct may not be complete. For example, after seeing
a woman with a genital ulcer, a provider might diagnose either
syphilis or chancroid. But the woman could have both infections.
Treatment would not be complete and effective unless the client
were treated for both infections.
When not sure of the diagnosis, an experienced clinician might
realize that treating for a single infection is not sufficient
and may treat for more than one infection.
This approach relies on symptoms and signs of infection and
hence, cannot be used with asymptomatic persons.