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Female users of internet-based screening for rectal STIs: descriptive statistics and correlates of positivity
  1. Jessica Ladd1,
  2. Yu-Hsiang Hsieh2,
  3. Mathilda Barnes3,
  4. Nicole Quinn3,
  5. Mary Jett-Goheen3,
  6. Charlotte A Gaydos3
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jessica Ladd, 222 Broadway, Floor 20, New York, NY 10038, USA; jladd{at}


Background Internet-based screening for vaginal sexually transmitted infections (STI) has been shown to reach high-risk populations. Published studies of internet-based screening for rectal STIs in women are needed. Our objectives were to describe the female users of a rectal internet-based screening intervention and assess what factors correlated with rectal positivity for STIs.

Methods The website offers free STI testing via home self-sampling kits. Women could order vaginal and rectal kits, both containing questionnaires. Rectal and vaginal swabs were tested for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Trichomonas vaginalis using nucleic acid amplification tests. Data were analysed from 205 rectal kits from January 2009 through February 2011. Self-reported characteristics of participants were examined, and correlates of rectal STI positivity were analysed.

Results Of the 205 rectal samples returned and eligible for testing, 38 (18.5%) were positive for at least one STI. The women were young (mean age 25.8 years), mostly African–American (50.0%), and only 14.0% always used condoms. After adjusting for age and race, Black race (AOR=3.06) and vaginal STI positivity (AOR=40.6) were significantly correlated with rectal STI positivity. Of women testing positive for rectal STIs who also submitted vaginal swabs, 29.4% were negative in the vaginal sample.

Conclusions Internet-based rectal screening can reach populations that appear to be at high risk for rectal STIs (18.5% prevalence) and led to the diagnosis of STIs in women who would not have been diagnosed vaginally. Black race and vaginal STI positivity were highly correlated with rectal STI positivity.


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