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To mark the millennium year, the Medical Society for Venereal Diseases (MSSVD) annual conference was held jointly with the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association (ASTDA). The MSSVD was founded in 1922 and the ASTDA began in 1934 as the American Neisserian Medical Society. This is the first time these two august scientific societies have held a joint meeting in their combined 144 years, so it was a unique occasion and promised to be a very special one—we were not disappointed (slides and audio from all the plenary sessions will be webcast at www.hopkins-aids.edu/sti).
Over 630 delegates, predominantly from the United States and the United Kingdom, attended the conference at the Omni Harbor Hotel, Baltimore, making this the largest Spring Meeting the MSSVD has ever been involved in. The city was a fitting venue for such a conference, having had a major role in the American scientific and public health responses to STDs. More recently, in 1998 Baltimore became the syphilis capital of the United States—having 30 times the national average!
The main theme of “STIs past, present and future” was woven throughout the programme. Although the main conference began on Wednesday evening, there were two satellite symposia held during the day. “Treponema pallidum—current epidemiology and molecular biology,” honoured the near centennial of Dr Thomas B Turner. Lectures covered the current epidemiology of syphilis and the remarkable advances of the past decade or so in understanding the molecular biology and pathogenesis of T pallidum.
In the afternoon “Diagnostics in the molecular millennium” looked at how the new diagnostic techniques can be used to improve screening and treatment. Dr Deborah Cohen looked at the use of urine LCR testing for gonorrhoea and chlamydia screening of asymptomatic populations in clinical and non-clinical settings and particularly to screen adolescents in …