Self-collection of vaginal swabs for the detection of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis: Opportunity to encourage sexually transmitted disease testing among adolescents

Harold C. Wiesenfeld, Donna L B Lowry, R. Phillips Heine, Marijane A. Krohn, Heather Bittner, Kathleen Kellinger, Maryann Shultz, Richard L Sweet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

144 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are prevalent among adolescents, yet compliance to undergo STD testing by this population is suboptimal. Efforts to enhance compliance with testing among at-risk youth are needed. Goal: To determine the feasibility and acceptability of self-collection of vaginal swabs for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Trichomonas vaginalis among high-school students attending a school health clinic. Study Design: Enrolled in the study were 228 female students between the ages of 15 and 19 years. Each student self-collected a single vaginal swab that was tested for C trachomatis, N gonorrhoeae, and T vaginalis by polymerase chain reaction amplification. Acceptability of self-collection of vaginal swabs was assessed. Results: The prevalence of any STD was 18%. Trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea were diagnosed in 10%, 8%, and 2% of students, respectively. Nearly 13% of females who had never previously had a gynecologic examination tested positive for an STD, and 51% of infected students would not have pursued testing by traditional gynecologic examination if self-collection was not offered. Self-collection of vaginal swabs was almost uniformly reported as easy to perform (99%) and preferable to a gynecologic examination (84%). Nearly all (97%) stated that they would undergo testing at frequent intervals if self-testing were available. Conclusions: Self-collected vaginal swabs for STD testing can be easily implemented in a high-school setting with high acceptability among students, enabling the detection of many STDs that would otherwise remain undetected and untreated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
JournalSexually Transmitted Diseases
Volume28
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)

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