Barriers to effective STI screening in a post-Soviet society: results from a qualitative study
- 1Department of Public Health, University of Tartu, Estonia
- 2Department of Sociology, University of Tartu, Estonia
- 3Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA
- Correspondence to: Anneli Uusküla Department of Public Health, University of Tartu, Ravila 19, Tartu 50409, Estonia;
- Accepted 8 April 2006
Objective: This qualitative study assesses knowledge about sexually transmitted infections (STI), identifies perceived barriers to STI testing, and recommends strategies to optimise participation in a home based STI testing programme.
Methods: Five focus groups composed of 29 total participants were recruited using convenience sampling methods based on age (18–40 years), gender (male and female), and residency (Tartu region, Estonia).
Results: The focus groups revealed significant knowledge deficits and a widespread attitude of denial. However, participants acknowledged that STIs are a serious problem and recommended strategies for increasing participation in an STI testing and treatment programme. Successful STI prevention programmes must address a number of challenges, including disease stigmatisation and privacy protection.
Conclusion: The fear of enforced disease control methods coupled with the current stigmatisation of STIs creates a serious challenge for Estonian STI prevention and treatment efforts. This qualitative study provides a good contextual reference for STI control programmes in eastern Europe.
- NAATs, nucleic acid amplification tests
- STD, sexually transmitted disease
- STI, sexually transmitted infections
Funding: This study was supported by a grant No R01 TW006990 from the Fogarty International Center, NIH, USA.
Competing interests: none.