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Sinka and colleagues found that using self-taken vaginal swabs for HPV testing was acceptable to young women who had defaulted from their initial HPV screening appointment at age 211. However, the rate of return of postal samples was low (13%, 725/5500). In October 2011 we conducted a feasibility study to evaluate response rates of 16-24yo female GUM clinic attenders to providing two self-taken vaginal swabs for Chlamydia tra...
Sinka and colleagues found that using self-taken vaginal swabs for HPV testing was acceptable to young women who had defaulted from their initial HPV screening appointment at age 211. However, the rate of return of postal samples was low (13%, 725/5500). In October 2011 we conducted a feasibility study to evaluate response rates of 16-24yo female GUM clinic attenders to providing two self-taken vaginal swabs for Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycoplasma genitalium testing and allowing access to NHS numbers and medical records for follow up. Women sitting in the female-only waiting area in the Courtyard Clinic at St George’s Hospital were approached by female Foundation Year 2 research doctors or medical students and given a flier about the study. This explained that women aged under 25 were being asked to help in research by providing self-taken samples and completing a questionnaire and that they would be given a lollipop. Those expressing interest were taken to a side room where they were given the full patient information leaflet and taken through the written consent process. They were shown how to take the swabs and asked to provide them in the nearest toilet in addition to any samples taken during their clinic consultation.
Of 154 women approached, 104 (68%) consented to take part. Non responders were similar mean age to responders (19.5 SD 2.5 versus 19.9 SD 2.9 years) but more likely to come from ethnic minority groups: 68% (32/47) versus 50% (50/101) p<_0.05. _="_" p="p"/>
Among responders, mean age of sexual debut was 15.9 (range 12-21 n=103); 48% (49/102) reported two or more sexual partners in the preceding 12 months; 33% (34/104) said they used condoms; and 51% (53/104) were smokers. There was a high prevalence of reported history of sexually transmitted infections. Of 101 responders, 26% said they had had chlamydia infection, 5% gonorrhoea and 5% pelvic inflammatory disease. Tests showed that 11.5% (12/104) were positive for Chlamydia trachomatis and 1% (1/104) for Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
All but one of the 104 participants gave consent for their NHS number to be obtained and used to access their hospital, general practice and GUM clinic records. This is important for future UK studies investigating long-term sequelae of sexually transmitted infections. All participants agreed their samples could be stored for future research. However, although all but one (103/104) agreed to provide follow up postal samples after three months, the current rate of return is 33% (17/52). As in the study by Sinka and colleagues1 and a postal survey of female students2, it is likely that the rate of return of follow up samples will be less than predicted.
1. Sinka K, Lacey M, Robertson C, Kavanagh K, Cushieri K, Nicholson D, Donaghy M, Acceptability and response to a postal survey using self-taken samples for HPV vaccine impact monitoring. STI Online First, published on October 11, 2011 as 10.1136/sextrans-2011-050211
2. Oakeshott P, Aghaizu A, Hay P, Reid F, et al. Is Mycoplasma genitalium in women the ‘new Chlamydia?’ A community-based prospective cohort study. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2010; 51: 1160-6