Promoting HIV testing, chlamydia testing and long acting reversible contraception.
Phillips and colleagues found a third of in-patients had HIV tests following implementation of a routine HIV testing policy at Croydon University Hospital1. We recently found similar rates of HIV testing in young women in the community in our medical student research projects. In line with the 2013 Framework for Sexual Health Improvement's "three specific indicators for sexual health" 2, we investigated reported uptake of HIV testing, chlamydia testing and long acting reversible contraception (LARC) in young women attending a further education college and a university in London.
In September 2013 consecutive women in common room areas were invited to complete a confidential questionnaire on sexual health. The response rate among women at Lambeth College was 78% (77/99). The mean age of responders was 18 years (range 16-24), and 43% described themselves as being of black ethnicity, 19% white, and 38% of other ethnicity. Of the 39 (51%) women who said they were sexually active, 51% (20/39) had been tested for HIV in the past year and 78% (28/36) for chlamydia. A third (13/39) were currently using LARC (implant n=10, injection n=3).
The response rate among women at London Southbank University was 92% (79/86). The mean age of responders was 21 years (range 18-25) and 38% were from ethnic minorities. In the past year, 32% (25/79) had been tested for HIV and 34% (26/77) for chlamydia. Only 5% (4/79) reported the use of LARC in the past year, all of these being the implant. We agree with Phillips and colleagues that late diagnosis of HIV is a major public health problem. The recent Natsal report found that 29% of women but only 14% of men aged 16-24 years reported being tested for HIV in the past 5 years 3. Although rates of HIV testing in sexually active, multiethnic young women in our study were encouraging, it is also crucial to promote HIV testing in young men.
Anne Tear and Jessica Herbert 3rd year Medical Students Pippa Oakeshott Reader in General Practice Population Health Sciences and Education, St George's, University of London Correspondence: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Acknowledgement We thank students and staff at Lambeth College and London Southbank University.
Reference List (1) Philips. D, Barbour. A, et al, Implementation of a routine HIV testing policy in an acute medical setting in a UK general hospital: a cross sectional study, STI 2013, doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2013-051302 (2) Department of Health, Improving outcomes and supporting transparency, November 2013, pg 53, 91,99 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263662/2901502_PHOF_Improving_Outcomes_PT2_v1_1.pdf [Acessed 13th December 2013] (3) Sonnenberg P, Clifton S, Beddows S, et al, Prevalence, risk factors, and uptake of interventions for sexually transmitted infections in Britain: findings from the National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), The Lancet, Volume 382, Issue 9907, Pages 1795 - 1806, 30 November 2013 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61947-9
Conflict of Interest: