To determine the clinical reason(s) for screening women with varying degrees of risk for genital Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) in the Calgary region.
Women aged 15 to 75 years were enrolled at various patient care locations. Pertinent risk factors for genital CT infection were recorded and a gynecological examination was performed. Two endocervical swabs and a first-void urine sample were collected for CT detection using two different nucleic acid amplification test methods.
Calgary is an urban region that provides healthcare services to a population of almost one million people. Microbiology services are provided by Calgary Laboratory Services through a centralized regional laboratory service.
504 women with a mean age of 28.1 ±SD 8.22 years were enrolled. Two hundred ninety-one women (57.8%) were at high risk for acquiring genital CT infection. Twenty-eight (5.6%) tested positive for CT infection and almost all of these women (26 of 28, 93%) had risk factors for acquiring infection. Of the high-risk women, 9.8% were CT positive versus only 1.3% of women at low risk (P=0.0001). Only two of 152 (1.3%) women older than 30 years had genital CT infections. Although most women were asymptomatic, those with laboratory-confirmed CT infection were more likely to have genitourinary symptoms. Three hundred forty-three of 476 (72%) women who did not have genital CT infection had no risk factors, and screening was done as part of a routine gynecological examination for other purposes (prenatal visit, Pap smear).
Women without risk factors are being screened routinely for genital CT infection as part of a routine gynecological examination done for other reasons. Elimination of the routine screening of low-risk women older than 30 years of age would decrease the current regional utilization of CT tests by as much as one-third.