B8b Does An Internet-Based Self-Screening Program for Women Find Higher Prevalences for Chlamydia Trachomatis Than Family Planning Clinics?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010: 3:30 PM
Dogwood A (M1) (Omni Hotel)
Charlotte Gaydos, DrPH1, Mathilda Barnes, CCRP2, Bulbul Aumakhan, MD, MPH, PhD3, Nicole Quinn, BS1, Catherine Wright, BS, MPH4, Patricia Agreda, BS, MS, MBA3, Pamela Whittle, BS5, Mary Jett- Goheen3 and Terry Hogan, BA, MPH6, 1School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, STD Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 2School on Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, STD Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Univerisity, Baltimore, MD, 3School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, STD Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Univerisity, Baltimore, MD, 4Region III Infertility Prevention Project, Family Planning Council, Philadelphia, PA, 5Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore, MD, 6Bayview Medical Campus, Johns Hopkins Univerisity, Baltimore, MD

Background: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traditionally assess national chlamydia prevalence in women tested in family planning clinics. An Internet recruitment approach, along with use of a home-sampling kit, has been shown to be acceptable to women.

Objectives: To determine whether women who self-collected vaginal swabs at home and mailed them to a laboratory demonstrated a higher prevalence of chlamydia than women screened in family planning clinics.

Methods: Collection kits for vaginal swabs were requested via Internet, collected at home, and mailed to a laboratory for testing. Age-specific prevalences were compared to those tested in family planning (FP) clinics in Baltimore and Maryland during 2004-8. 

Results: Total chlamydia Internet prevalence was 10.3% for 1,171 females mailing swabs; prevalences for FP for Baltimore/MD ranged from 3.3-5.5%. For example, 2008 prevalence for Internet participants in Baltimore was 14.7%; for MD Internet, 12.4%.  The 2008 prevalence for FP participants in Baltimore was 5.5%, for MD FP was 4.3%.  Median age for all years for Internet users and for FP clients in Baltimore and Maryland combined was 23 years. For all Internet participants by age group, 0.8% were age 14 years, all uninfected; 25.9% were ages 15-19 years, 16.4% infected; 33.9% were 20-24 years, 10.8% infected; 17.8% were 25-29 years, 6.3% infected; and 21.7% were > 30 years, 1.7% infected.  In summary, by year, the prevalence was higher among Internet participants than FP ages 15-19 yr, 20-24 yr, and 25-29 yr.

Conclusions: Internet-recruited women demonstrated higher prevalences of chlamydia than those in FP in every age group except 10-14 yr, where very few women were screened via the Internet. Recruiting women via the Internet provides new options for chlamydia screening programs.

Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: More Internet outreach research may indicate new methods to provide more screening of at-risk women.