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Barriers to effective STI screening in a post-Soviet society: results from a qualitative study
  1. A Uusküla1,
  2. K Kangur2,
  3. L A McNutt3
  1. 1Department of Public Health, University of Tartu, Estonia
  2. 2Department of Sociology, University of Tartu, Estonia
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Anneli Uusküla
 Department of Public Health, University of Tartu, Ravila 19, Tartu 50409, Estonia; anneli.uuskula{at}


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
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • Estonia
  • barriers to testing

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  • Funding: This study was supported by a grant No R01 TW006990 from the Fogarty International Center, NIH, USA.

  • Competing interests: none.

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