Summary Control of sexually transmitted diseases improves the reproductive and sexual health of afflicted individuals and lowers the community burden of HIV. Preventing STDs or their complications requires health education, condom promotion and effective case management. Clinical diagnosis is frequently incorrect while laboratory-confirmed aetiological diagnosis is expensive. In resource-poor countries which lack trained personnel and laboratory facilities, syndromic management remains a rational approach to STD care. Although the approach is simplistic in design, its successful implementation requires regular monitoring and evaluation of protocols as well as supervision and training of clinicians.