Background Uptake of the opportunistic National Chlamydia Screening Programme in England is low and below model estimates of the optimal level to reduce Chlamydia incidence. Peer led approaches may increase screening uptake but their feasibility and acceptability to young people is not known.
Methods Focus groups and interviews with young women and men. All participants had expressed an interest in undergoing Chlamydia screening or had already been screened. The focus group and interviews were audio taped and transcribed verbatim for analysis. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted to identify, compare and report patterns in the data. Following interview, Chlamydia postal kits were introduced to participants and their opinions on giving these out to their peers sought. Participants were asked for their views and experiences of discussing Chlamydia screening and distributing kits to their friends four to eight weeks after the focus group/interview. All kits returned over a 9-month period to the laboratory were recorded.
Results Six men (mean age 19 years) and 6 women (mean age 20 years) were recruited. In total 45 kits were distributed, 33 (73%) to female participants. 26 (79%) and 3 (25%) of kits given to females and males respectively were given to peers. Of those tests distributed to peers there is a high return rate 34% (10/29) all of which had been given out by females. On average, 1.7 kits were returned for each female participant. Participants generally felt positive about the idea of peer-driven screening using postal kits. However, embarrassment was a key theme, particularly among men. Generally women but not men were able to discuss Peer Driven Screening among their close friends. Both sexes felt Peer Driven Screening would be easier if kits were readily available in multiple sites, and Chlamydia screening was more widely promoted.
Conclusion Female Peer Driven Screening but not male Peer Driven Screening was successful in recruiting peers to participate in Chlamydia screening. A peer driven intervention may increase uptake of Chlamydia screening.