Background Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 7.4 million new cases occur each year. Trich is a largely hidden STI - out of the public eye, and absent from serious discussions about STI prevention. Increasing awareness requires improved understanding of what women know to develop messages to encourage testing.
Methods A survey was conducted on behalf of American Sexual Health Association via an online panel by Research Now, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted between January 28th - February 2nd, 2013 among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 female respondents between the ages of 18 and 50.
Results Women surveyed perceive trich as the least common STI; only one in five (22%) women are familiar with it. Sixty-five percent would not seek medical attention if they experienced unusual symptoms, instead waiting to see if the symptoms go away or treating themselves with over-the-counter medicine. Those most likely to self-treat include Hispanic women (33%), those with a high school or less education (33%), and Southerners (32%). Among women concerned about contracting an STI, nearly half (49%) worry about trich increasing their risk of HIV. Only 5% indicate preterm birth and low birth weight babies as cause for concern. After reading a description of 55% say they are likely to ask their healthcare provider to test for trich. The facts most likely to make women get tested: testing is simple, easy, and painless and trichomoniasis can be easily cured; trichomoniasis doesn’t always show signs or symptoms.
Conclusions Awareness of trichomoniasis is very low. A number of factors affect whether women will choose to be tested. Education about different causes of vaginal discharge, consequences of trich, and ease of testing and treating are important.