Background: Comprehensive, national data are not available on STDs among the college population, and sentinel studies have predominately focused on white students attending 4-year institutions. However, racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionally impacted by STDs, and little is known about STDs among students attending minority serving institutes (MSIs). Likewise, STD research on the community college population is limited, despite the fact that these colleges serve almost half of all the undergraduate students in the US.
Methods: We reviewed chlamydia testing data from colleges participating in a national infertility prevention program. We determined chlamydia positivity (# of positive tests divided by the # tested) among females aged 18–24 years stratified by college type (4-year versus 2-year; MSI (yes/no)). MSIs include tribal universities, historically black colleges and universities, and Hispanic serving institutions.
Results: During 2008-2010, 143 colleges provided chlamydia testing data, 37 (26%) of which were MSIs and 21 (15%) were 2-year colleges. The colleges performed 118,946 chlamydia tests of which 7,733 (6.5%) were positive. Chlamydia positivity in females at 4-year institutions was 6.6% (6,625/94,395) compared to 5.3% (461/8,229) at 2-year institutions (p=0.0001). Among females at MSIs, chlamydia positivity was almost double of that at non-MSIs (10.0% (2,464/22,269) vs. 5.4% (4,873/85,189); p=0.0001). Similar to overall US patterns among women tested in family planning clinics, chlamydia positivity was highest in the southeast (11.0%) and southwest (13.5%), where the majority of MSIs are located.
Conclusions: Chlamydia positivity is higher among females on college campuses than among general population prevalence estimates; however additional information on screening practices is needed to better estimate prevalence as high positivity may reflect symptomatic testing rather than routine screening. Still, increased positivity at MSIs suggests targeted prevention efforts are needed to work with high-risk college populations to provide better screening and prevention services.