To examine the association between hormonal contraception (HC) and bacterial vaginosis (BV) by systematic review and meta-analysis.
Medline, Web of Science and Embase databases were searched to 24/1/13 and duplicate references removed. Inclusion criteria 1) >20 BV cases; 2) accepted BV diagnostic method; 3) measure of HC-use either as combined oestrogen-progesterone HC (combined), progesterone-only contraception (POC) or unspecified HC (u-HC); 4) ≥10% of women using HC; 5) analysis of the association between BV and HC-use presented; 6) appropriate control group. Data extracted included: type of HC, BV diagnostic method and outcome (prevalent, incident, recurrent), and geographical and clinic-setting. Meta-analyses were conducted to calculate pooled effect sizes (ES), stratified by HC-type and BV outcome. This systematic review is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42013003699).
Of 1713 unique references identified, 502 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility and 55 studies met inclusion criteria. Hormonal contraceptive use was associated with a significant reduction in the odds of prevalent BV (pooled effect size by random-effects [reES] = 0.68, 95%CI0.63–0.73), and in the relative risk (RR) of incident (reES = 0.82, 95%CI:0.72–0.92), and recurrent (reES = 0.69, 95%CI:0.59–0.91) BV. When stratified by HC-type, combined-HC and POC were both associated with decreased prevalence of BV and risk of incident BV. In the pooled analysis of the effect of HC-use on the composite outcome of prevalent/incident/recurrent BV, HC-use was associated with a reduced risk of any BV (reES = 0.78, 95%CI:0.74–0.82).
HC-use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of BV. This negative association was robust and present regardless of HC-type and evident across all three BV outcome measures. When stratified by HC-type, combined-HC and POC were both individually associated with a reduction in the prevalence and incidence of BV. This meta-analysis provides compelling evidence that HC-use influences a woman’s risk of BV, with important implications for clinicians and researchers in the field.
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most commonly diagnosed bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the developed world and diagnosis rates have increased dramatically over the last decade. Repeat infections of chlamydia are very common and may represent re-infection from an untreated partner or treatment failure. The aim of this cohort study is to estimate the proportion of women infected with chlamydia who experience treatment failure after treatment with 1 gram azithromycin.
This cohort study will follow women diagnosed with chlamydia for up to 56 days post treatment. Women will provide weekly genital specimens for further assay. The primary outcome is the proportion of women who are classified as having treatment failure 28, 42 or 56 days after recruitment. Comprehensive sexual behavior data collection and the detection of Y chromosome DNA and high discriminatory chlamydial genotyping will be used to differentiate between chlamydia re-infection and treatment failure. Azithromycin levels in high-vaginal specimens will be measured using a validated liquid chromatography – tandem mass spectrometry method to assess whether poor azithromycin absorption could be a cause of treatment failure. Chlamydia culture and minimal inhibitory concentrations will be performed to further characterize the chlamydia infections.
Distinguishing between treatment failure and re-infection is important in order to refine treatment recommendations and focus infection control mechanisms. If a large proportion of repeat chlamydia infections are due to antibiotic treatment failure, then international recommendations on chlamydia treatment may need to be re-evaluated. If most are re-infections, then strategies to expedite partner treatment are necessary.
Chlamydia trachomatis; Azithromycin; Treatment failure; Re-infection; Sexually transmitted infections
Despite substantial investment in Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems there has been little research to evaluate them. Our aim was to evaluate changes in efficiency and quality of services after the introduction of a purpose built EMR system, and to assess its acceptability by the doctors, nurses and patients using it.
We compared a nine month period before and after the introduction of an EMR system in a large sexual health service, audited a sample of records in both periods and undertook anonymous surveys of both staff and patients.
There were 9,752 doctor consultations (in 5,512 consulting hours) in the Paper Medical Record (PMR) period and 9,145 doctor consultations (in 5,176 consulting hours in the EMR period eligible for inclusion in the analysis. There were 5% more consultations per hour seen by doctors in the EMR period compared to the PMR period (rate ratio = 1.05; 95% confidence interval, 1.02, 1.08) after adjusting for type of consultation. The qualitative evaluation of 300 records for each period showed no difference in quality (P>0.17). A survey of clinicians demonstrated that doctors and nurses preferred the EMR system (P<0.01) and a patient survey in each period showed no difference in satisfaction of their care (97% for PMR, 95% for EMR, P = 0.61).
The introduction of an integrated EMR improved efficiency while maintaining the quality of the patient record. The EMR was popular with staff and was not associated with a decline in patient satisfaction in the clinical care provided.
To determine prevalence and incidence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) and risk factors in young sexually-active Australian women.
1093 women aged 16–25 years were recruited from primary-care clinics. Participants completed 3-monthly questionnaires and self-collected vaginal smears 6-monthly for 12-months. The primary endpoint was a Nugent Score = 7–10 (BV) and the secondary endpoint was a NS = 4–10 (abnormal flora [AF]). BV and AF prevalence estimates and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) were derived, and adjusted odds ratios (AOR) calculated to explore epidemiological associations with prevalent BV and AF. Proportional-hazards regression models were used to examine factors associated with incident BV and AF.
At baseline 129 women had BV [11.8% (95%CI: 9.4–14.2)] and 188 AF (17.2%; 15.1–19.5). Prevalent BV was associated with having a recent female partner [AOR = 2.1; 1.0–4.4] and lack of tertiary-education [AOR = 1.9; 1.2–3.0]; use of an oestrogen-containing contraceptive (OCC) was associated with reduced risk [AOR = 0.6; 0.4–0.9]. Prevalent AF was associated with the same factors, and additionally with >5 male partners (MSP) in 12-months [AOR = 1.8; 1.2–2.5)], and detection of C.trachomatis or M.genitalium [AOR = 2.1; 1.0–4.5]. There were 82 cases of incident BV (9.4%;7.7–11.7/100 person-years) and 129 with incident AF (14.8%; 12.5–17.6/100 person-years). Incident BV and AF were associated with a new MSP [adjusted rate ratio (ARR) = 1.5; 1.1–2.2 and ARR = 1.5; 1.1–2.0], respectively. OCC-use was associated with reduced risk of incident AF [ARR = 0.7; 0.5–1.0].
This paper presents BV and AF prevalence and incidence estimates from a large prospective cohort of young Australian women predominantly recruited from primary-care clinics. These data support the concept that sexual activity is strongly associated with the development of BV and AF and that use of an OCC is associated with reduced risk.
In many countries, low Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) screening rates among young people in primary-care have encouraged screening programs outside of clinics. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) make it possible to screen people in homes with self-collected specimens. We systematically reviewed the strategies and outcomes of home-based CT/NG screening programs.
Electronic databases were searched for home-based CT and/or NG screening studies published since January 2005. Screening information (e.g. target group, recruitment and specimen-collection method) and quantitative outcomes (e.g. number of participants, tests and positivity) were extracted. The screening programs were classified into seven groups on the basis of strategies used.
We found 29 eligible papers describing 32 home-based screening programs. In seven outreach programs, people were approached in their homes: a median of 97% participants provided specimens and 76% were tested overall (13717 tests). In seven programs, people were invited to receive postal test-kits (PTKs) at their homes: a median of 37% accepted PTKs, 79% returned specimens and 19% were tested (46225 tests). PTKs were sent along with invitation letters in five programs: a median of 33% returned specimens and 29% of those invited were tested (15126 tests). PTKs were requested through the internet or phone without invitations in four programs and a median of 32% returned specimens (2666 tests). Four programs involved study personnel directly inviting people to receive PTKs: a median of 46% accepted PTKs, 21% returned specimens and 9.1% were tested (341 tests). PTKs were picked-up from designated locations in three programs: a total of 6765 kits were picked-up and 1167 (17%) specimens were returned for screening. Two programs used a combination of above strategies (2395 tests) but the outcomes were not reported separately. The overall median CT positivity was 3.6% (inter-quartile range: 1.7-7.3%).
A variety of strategies have been used in home-based CT/NG screening programs. The screening strategies and their feasibility in the local context need to be carefully considered to maximize the effectiveness of home-based screening programs.
Sexually transmitted infections; Chlamydia trachomatis; Screening; Home
Men who have sex with men (MSM) especially those who are HIV positive are at risk for HPV-associated anal cancer. We systematically reviewed studies with data on the prevalence of vaccine preventable anal HPV among men who have sex with men aged 25 or younger and identified 6 studies. None of these studies were specifically designed to determine the prevalence of HPV in this population. Available data, albeit limited, suggest many young MSM may not already be HPV infected. Further studies using representative sampling focused on teenage MSM are required to confirm this.
Human papillomavirus (HPV); Men who have sex with men; Prevalence
Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is becoming more common. We examined prevalence and risk factors for oral HPV among men who have sex with men (MSM) and compared sampling and transport methods.
In 2010, 500 MSM (249 HIV-positive) attending Melbourne Sexual Health Centre answered a questionnaire, swabbed their mouth and throat and collected a gargled oral rinse sample. Half the oral rinse was transported absorbed in a tampon (to enable postage). HPV was detected by polymerase chain reaction, and genotyped by Roche Linear Array®. Men with HPV 16 or 18 were retested after six months.
Any HPV genotype was detected in 19% (95% confidence intervals (CI) 15–25%) of HIV-infected men and 7% (95% CI 4–11%) of HIV-negative men (p<0.001), and HPV 16 was detected in 4.4% (95% CI 2–8%) of HIV-infected men and 0.8% (0.1–2.8%) of HIV-negative men. Oral HPV was associated with: current smoking (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2.2 (95%CI: 1.2–3.9)), time since tooth-brushing (aOR per hour 0.87, 95%CI: 0.8–0.96) and number of lifetime tongue-kissing partners aOR 3.2 95%CI: (1.2–8.4) for 26–100 partners and 4.9 95%CI: (1.9–12.5) for>100 partners. Lifetime oral-penile sex partner numbers were significantly associated in a separate model: aOR 2.8(1.2–6.3) for 26–100 partners and 3.2(1.4–7.2) for>100 partners. HPV 16 and 18 persisted in 10 of 12 men after a median six months. Sensitivities of sampling methods compared to all methods combined were: oral rinse 97%, tampon-absorbed oral rinse 69%, swab 32%.
Oral HPV was associated with HIV infection, smoking, recent tooth-brushing, and more lifetime tongue-kissing and oral sex partners. The liquid oral rinse sample was more sensitive than a tampon-absorbed oral rinse or a self-collected swab.
Background. Evidence suggests adherence to clinical guidelines for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) diagnosis and management is suboptimal. We systematically reviewed the literature for studies describing strategies to improve the adherence to PID clinical guidelines. Methods. The databases MEDLINE and EMBASE, and reference lists of review articles were searched from January 2000 to April 2012. Only studies with a control group were included. Results. An interrupted time-series study and two randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were included. The interrupted time-series found that following a multifaceted patient and practitioner intervention (practice protocol, provision of antibiotics on-site, written instructions for patients, and active followup), more patients received the recommended antibiotics and attended for followup. One RCT found a patient video on PID self-care did not improve medication compliance and followup. Another RCT found an abbreviated PID treatment guideline for health-practitioners improved their management of PID in hypothetical case scenarios but not their diagnosis of PID. Conclusion. There is limited research on what strategies can improve practitioner and patient adherence to PID diagnosis and management guidelines. Interventions that make managing PID more convenient, such as summary guidelines and provision of treatment on-site, appear to lead to better adherence but further empirical evidence is necessary.
This study aimed to estimate rates of chlamydia incidence and re-infection and to investigate the dynamics of chlamydia organism load in prevalent, incident and re-infections among young Australian women.
1,116 women aged 16 to 25 years were recruited from primary care clinics in Australia. Vaginal swabs were collected at 3 to 6 month intervals for chlamydia testing. Chlamydia organism load was measured by quantitative PCR.
There were 47 incident cases of chlamydia diagnosed and 1,056.34 person years of follow up with a rate of 4.4 per 100 person years (95% CI: 3.3, 5.9). Incident infection was associated with being aged 16 to 20 years [RR = 3.7 (95%CI: 1.9, 7.1)], being employed [RR = 2.4 (95%CI: 1.1, 4.9)] and having two or more new sex partners [RR = 5.5 (95%CI: 2.6, 11.7)]. Recent antibiotic use was associated with a reduced incidence [RR:0.1 (95%CI: 0.0, 0.5)]. There were 14 re-infections with a rate of 22.3 per 100 person years (95%CI: 13.2, 37.6). The median time to re-infection was 4.6 months. Organism load was higher for prevalent than incident infections (p<0.01) and for prevalent than re-infections (p<0.01).
Chlamydia is common among young women and a high proportion of women are re-infected within a short period of time, highlighting the need for effective partner treatment and repeat testing. The difference in organism load between prevalent and incident infections suggests prevalent infection may be more important for ongoing transmission of chlamydia.
Chlamydia trachomatis is a common sexually transmitted infection in Australia. This report aims to measure the burden of chlamydia infection by systematically reviewing reports on prevalence in Australian populations.
Electronic databases and conference websites were searched from 1997–2011 using the terms ‘Chlamydia trachomatis’ OR ‘chlamydia’ AND ‘prevalence’ OR ‘epidemiology’ AND ‘Australia’. Reference lists were checked and researchers contacted for additional literature. Studies were categorised by setting and participants, and meta-analysis conducted to determine pooled prevalence estimates for each category.
Seventy-six studies met the inclusion criteria for the review. There was a high level of heterogeneity between studies; however, there was a trend towards higher chlamydia prevalence in younger populations, Indigenous Australians, and those attending sexual health centres. In community or general practice settings, pooled prevalence for women <25 years in studies conducted post-2005 was 5.0% (95% CI: 3.1, 6.9; five studies), and for men <30 years over the entire review period was 3.9% (95% CI: 2.7, 5.1; six studies). For young Australians aged <25 years attending sexual health, family planning or youth clinics, estimated prevalence was 6.2% (95% CI: 5.1, 7.4; 10 studies) for women and 10.2% (95% CI: 9.5, 10.9; five studies) for men. Other key findings include pooled prevalence estimates of 22.1% (95% CI: 19.0, 25.3; three studies) for Indigenous women <25 years, 14.6% (95% CI: 11.5, 17.8; three studies) for Indigenous men <25 years, and 5.6% (95% CI: 4.8, 6.3; 11 studies) for rectal infection in men who have sex with men. Several studies failed to report basic demographic details such as sex and age, and were therefore excluded from the analysis.
Chlamydia trachomatis infections are a significant health burden in Australia; however, accurate estimation of chlamydia prevalence in Australian sub-populations is limited by heterogeneity within surveyed populations, and variations in sampling methodologies and data reporting. There is a need for more large, population-based studies and prospective cohort studies to compliment mandatory notification data.
Chlamydia; Meta-analysis; Prevalence; Systematic review
To determine if oral metronidazole (MTZ-400mg bid) with 2% vaginal clindamycin-cream (Clind) or a Lactobacillus acidophilus vaginal-probiotic containing oestriol (Prob) reduces 6-month bacterial vaginosis (BV) recurrence.
Double-blind placebo-controlled parallel-group single-site study with balanced randomization (1∶1∶1) conducted at Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Australia. Participants with symptomatic BV [Nugent Score (NS) = 7–10 or ≥3 Amsel's criteria and NS = 4–10], were randomly allocated to MTZ-Clind, MTZ-Prob or MTZ-Placebo and assessed at 1,2,3 and 6 months. MTZ and Clind were administered for 7 days and Prob and Placebo for 12 days. Primary outcome was BV recurrence (NS of 7–10) on self-collected vaginal-swabs over 6-months. Cumulative BV recurrence rates were compared between groups by Chi-squared statistics. Kaplan-Meier, log rank and Cox regression analyses were used to compare time until and risk of BV recurrence between groups.
450 18–50 year old females were randomized and 408 (91%), equally distributed between groups, provided ≥1 NS post-randomization and were included in analyses; 42 (9%) participants with no post-randomization data were excluded. Six-month retention rates were 78% (n = 351). One-month BV recurrence (NS 7–10) rates were 3.6% (5/140), 6.8% (9/133) and 9.6% (13/135) in the MTZ-Clind, MTZ-Prob and MTZ-Placebo groups respectively, p = 0.13. Hazard ratios (HR) for BV recurrence at one-month, adjusted for adherence to vaginal therapy, were 0.43 (95%CI 0.15–1.22) and 0.75 (95% CI 0.32–1.76) in the MTZ-Clind and MTZ-Prob groups compared to MTZ-Plac respectively. Cumulative 6-month BV recurrence was 28.2%; (95%CI 24.0–32.7%) with no difference between groups, p = 0.82; HRs for 6-month BV recurrence for MTZ-Clind and MTZ-Prob compared to MTZ-Plac, adjusted for adherence to vaginal therapy were 1.09(95% CI = 0.70–1.70) and 1.03(95% CI = 0.65–1.63), respectively. No serious adverse events occurred.
Combining the recommended first line therapies of oral metronidazole and vaginal clindamycin, or oral metronidazole with an extended-course of a commercially available vaginal-L.acidophilus probiotic, does not reduce BV recurrence.
In recent years several new fastidious bacteria have been identified that display a high specificity for BV; however no previous studies have comprehensively assessed the behavioural risk associations of these bacterial vaginosis-candidate organisms (BV-COs).
We examined the associations between 8 key previously described BV-COs and BV status established by Nugent's score (NS). We also examined the sexual practices associated with each BV-CO. We incorporated 2 study populations: 193 from a sexually-inexperienced university population and 146 from a highly sexually-active clinic population. Detailed behavioural data was collected by questionnaire and vaginal smears were scored by the Nugent method. Stored samples were tested by quantitative PCR assays for the 8 BV-COs: Atopobium vaginae, Gardnerella vaginalis, Leptotrichia spp., Megasphaera type I, Sneathia spp., and the Clostridia-like bacteria BVAB1, BVAB2 and BVAB3. Associations between BV-COs and BV and behaviours were examined by univariate and multivariable analyses.
On univariate analysis, all BV-COs were more common in BV compared to normal flora. However, only Megasphaera type I, BVAB2, A. vaginae and G. vaginalis were significantly independently associated with BV by multivariable analysis. Six of the eight BV-COs (Megasphaera type I, BVAB2, BVAB3, Sneathia, Leptotrichia and G. vaginalis) were rare or absent in sexually-unexposed women, and demonstrated increasing odds of detection with increasing levels of sexual activity and/or numbers of lifetime sexual partners. Only G. vaginalis and A. vaginae were commonly detected in sexually-unexposed women. Megasphaera type I was independently associated with women-who-have-sex-with women (WSW) and lifetime sexual partner numbers, while unprotected penile-vaginal-sex was associated with BVAB2 detection by multivariate analysis.
Four of eight key BV-COs were significantly associated with BV after adjusting for the presence of other BV-COs. The majority of BV-COs were absent or rare in sexually-unexposed women, and associated with increasing sexual exposure, suggesting potential sexual transmission of BV-COs.
Young people are disproportionately affected by sexually transmissible infections in Australia but face barriers to accessing sexual health services, including concerns over confidentiality and, for some, geographic remoteness. A possible innovation to increase access to services is the use of telemedicine.
Young people's (aged 16-24) pre-use views on telephone and webcam consultations for sexual health were investigated through a widely-advertised national online survey in Australia. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the study sample and chi-square, Mann-Whitney U test, or t-tests were used to assess associations. Multinomial logistic regression was used to explore the association between the three-level outcome variable (first preference in person, telephone or webcam, and demographic and behavioural variables); odds ratios and 95%CI were calculated using in person as the reference category. Free text responses were analysed thematically.
A total of 662 people completed the questionnaire. Overall, 85% of the sample indicated they would be willing to have an in-person consultation with a doctor, 63% a telephone consultation, and 29% a webcam consultation. Men, respondents with same-sex partners, and respondents reporting three or more partners in the previous year were more willing to have a webcam consultation. Imagining they lived 20 minutes from a doctor, 83% of respondents reported that their first preference would be an in-person consultation with a doctor; if imagining they lived two hours from a doctor, 51% preferred a telephone consultation. The main objections to webcam consultations in the free text responses were privacy and security concerns relating to the possibility of the webcam consultation being recorded, saved, and potentially searchable and retrievable online.
This study is the first we are aware of that seeks the views of young people on telemedicine and access to sexual health services. Although only 29% of respondents were willing to have a webcam consultation, such a service may benefit youth who may not otherwise access a sexual health service. The acceptability of webcam consultations may be increased if medical clinics provide clear and accessible privacy policies ensuring that consultations will not be recorded or saved.
Established in-house quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays to detect the Mycoplasma genitalium adhesion protein (MgPa) and the 16S rRNA gene were found to be comparable for screening purposes, with a kappa value of 0.97 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.94 to 1.01) and no difference in bacterial load quantified (P = 0.4399).
As most genital chlamydia infections are asymptomatic, screening is the main way to detect and cases for treatment. We undertook a systematic review of studies assessing the efficacy of interventions for increasing the uptake of chlamydia screening in primary care.
We reviewed studies which compared chlamydia screening in the presence and the absence of an intervention. The primary endpoints were screening rate or total tests.
We identified 16 intervention strategies; 11 were randomised controlled trials and five observational studies, 10 targeted females only, five both males and females, and one males only. Of the 15 interventions among females, six were associated with significant increases in screening rates at the 0.05 level including a multifaceted quality improvement program that involved provision of a urine jar to patients at registration (44% in intervention clinics vs. 16% in the control clinic); linking screening to routine Pap smears (6.9% vs. 4.5%), computer alerts for doctors (12.2% vs. 10.6%); education workshops for clinic staff; internet-based continuing medical education (15.5% vs. 12.4%); and free sexual health consultations (16.8% vs. 13.2%). Of the six interventions targeting males, two found significant increases including the multifaceted quality improvement program in which urine jars were provided to patients at registration (45% vs. 15%); and the offering by doctors of a test to all presenting young male clients, prior to consultation (29 vs. 4%).
Interventions that promoted the universal offer of a chlamydia test in young people had the greatest impact on increasing screening in primary care.
In recent years social networking sites (SNSs) have grown rapidly in popularity. The popularity of these sites, along with their interactive functions, offer a novel environment in which to deliver health promotion messages. The aim of this paper is to examine the extent to which SNSs are currently being used for sexual health promotion and describe the breadth of these activities.
We conducted a systematic search of published scientific literature, electronic sources (general and scientific search engines, blogs) and SNSs (Facebook, MySpace) to identify existing sexual health promotion activities using SNSs. Health promotion activities were eligible for inclusion if they related to sexual health or behaviour, utilised one or more SNSs, and involved some element of health promotion. Information regarding the source and type of health promotion activity, target population and site activity were extracted.
178 sexual health promotion activities met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review; only one activity was identified through a traditional systematic search of the published scientific literature. Activities most commonly used one SNS, were conducted by not-for-profit organisations, targeted young people and involved information delivery. Facebook was the most commonly used SNS (used by 71% of all health promotion activities identified), followed by MySpace and Twitter. Seventy nine percent of activities on MySpace were considered inactive as there had been no online posts within the past month, compared to 22% of activities using Facebook and 14% of activities using Twitter. The number of end-users and posts in the last seven days varied greatly between health promotion activities.
SNSs are being used for sexual health promotion, although the extent to which they are utilised varies greatly, and the vast majority of activities are unreported in the scientific literature. Future studies should examine the key factors for success among those activities attracting a large and active user base, and how success might be measured, in order to guide the development of future health promotion activities in this emerging setting.
Social networking sites; health promotion; sexual health
To determine whether chlamydia positivity among heterosexual men (MSW) and chlamydia and gonorrhea positivity among men who have sex with men (MSM), are changing.
Computerized records for men attending a large sexual health clinic between 2002 and 2009 were analyzed. Chlamydia and gonorrhea positivity were calculated and logistic regression used to assess changes over time.
17769 MSW and 8328 MSM tested for chlamydia and 7133 MSM tested for gonorrhea. In MSW, 7.37% (95% CI: 6.99-7.77) were chlamydia positive; the odds of chlamydia positivity increased by 4% per year (OR = 1.04; 95% CI: 1.01-1.07; p = 0.02) after main risk factors were adjusted for. In MSM, 3.70% (95% CI: 3.30-4.14) were urethral chlamydia positive and 5.36% (95% CI: 4.82-5.96) were anal chlamydia positive; positivity could not be shown to have changed over time. In MSM, 3.05% (95% CI: 2.63-3.53) tested anal gonorrhea positive and 1.83% (95% CI: 1.53-2.18) tested pharyngeal gonorrhea positive. Univariate analysis found the odds of anal gonorrhea positivity had decreased (OR = 0.93; 95% CI: 0.87-1.00; p = 0.05), but adjusting for main risk factors resulted in no change. Urethral gonorrhea cases in MSM as a percentage of all MSM tested for gonorrhea also fell (p < 0.001).
These data suggest that chlamydia prevalence in MSW is rising and chlamydia and gonorrhea prevalence among MSM is stable or declining. High STI testing rates among MSM in Australia may explain differences in STI trends between MSM and MSW.
Chlamydia; Gonorrhea; Men who have sex with men; Heterosexual men; Positivity
Computer assisted self interviewing (CASI) has been used at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC) since 2008 for obtaining sexual history and identifying patients' risk factors for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We aimed to evaluate the impact of CASI operating at MSHC.
The proportion of patients who decline to answer questions using CASI was determined. We then compared consultation times and STI-testing rates during comparable CASI and non-CASI operating periods. Patients and staff completed anonymous questionnaires about their experience with CASI. 14,190 patients completed CASI during the audit period. Men were more likely than women to decline questions about the number of partners they had of the opposite sex (4.4% v 3.6%, p = 0.05) and same sex (8.9% v 0%, p<0.001). One third (34%) of HIV-positive men declined the number of partners they had and 11–17% declined questions about condom use. Women were more likely than men to decline to answer questions about condom use (2.9% v 2.3%, p = 0.05). There was no difference in the mean consultation times during CASI and non-CASI operating periods (p≥0.17). Only the proportion of women tested for chlamydia differed between the CASI and non-CASI period (84% v 88% respectively, p<0.01). 267 patients completed the survey about CASI. Most (72% men and 69% women) were comfortable using the computer and reported that all their answers were accurate (76% men and 71% women). Half preferred CASI but 18% would have preferred a clinician to have asked the questions. 39 clinicians completed the staff survey. Clinicians felt that for some STI risk factors (range 11%–44%), face-to-face questioning was more accurate than CASI. Only 5% were unsatisfied with CASI.
We have demonstrated that CASI is acceptable to both patients and clinicians in a sexual health setting and does not adversely affect various measures of clinical output.
Cohort studies are an important study design however they are difficult to implement, often suffer from poor retention, low participation and bias. The aims of this paper are to describe the methods used to recruit and retain young women in a longitudinal study and to explore factors associated with loss to follow up.
The Chlamydia Incidence and Re-infection Rates Study (CIRIS) was a longitudinal study of Australian women aged 16 to 25 years recruited from primary health care clinics. They were followed up via the post at three-monthly intervals and required to return questionnaires and self collected vaginal swabs for chlamydia testing. The protocol was designed to maximise retention in the study and included using recruiting staff independent of the clinic staff, recruiting in private, regular communication with study staff, making the follow up as straightforward as possible and providing incentives and small gifts to engender good will.
The study recruited 66% of eligible women. Despite the nature of the study (sexual health) and the mobility of the women (35% moved address at least once), 79% of the women completed the final stage of the study after 12 months. Loss to follow up bias was associated with lower education level [adjusted hazard ratio (AHR): 0.7 (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.5, 1.0)], recruitment from a sexual health centre as opposed to a general practice clinic [AHR: 1.6 (95% CI: 1.0, 2.7)] and previously testing positive for chlamydia [AHR: 0.8 (95% CI: 0.5, 1.0)]. No other factors such as age, numbers of sexual partners were associated with loss to follow up.
The methods used were considered effective for recruiting and retaining women in the study. Further research is needed to improve participation from less well-educated women.
We aimed to determine the incidence of Hepatitis C (HCV) infection among HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM) attending a Sexual Health Centre.
A retrospective cohort study was carried out among HIV-infected MSM seen at least once between February 2002 and March 2010. The analysis was restricted to MSM who had had a negative HCV antibody test at least 6 months after their diagnosis for HIV. Duration of follow up was taken from the date of HIV diagnosis to the first positive or last negative HCV antibody test.
During the time 1445 HIV-infected men attended the clinic of whom 1065 (74%) were MSM. Of these, 869 (82%) were tested for HCV at any time after HIV diagnosis. Of these 869, 69% (620) tested HCV negative at least 6 months after their HIV diagnosis. These 620 men had a mean age of 34 years (range 17-72) at HIV diagnosis and a total of 4,359 person years (PY) of follow up. There were 40 incident cases of HCV, of which 16 were in injecting drug users (IDU) and 24 in non-IDU. The overall incidence of HCV among HIV-infected MSM was 0.9/100 PY (95% CI 0.6-1.2). The incidence among HIV-infected IDU was 4.7/100 PY (95% CI 2.7-7.5) while the incidence among HIV-infected non-IDU was 0.6/100 PY (95% CI 0.4-0.8) (hazard ratio of 8.7 and 95% CI 4.6-16.6, P < 0.001).
The majority (78%) were tested for HCV because they developed abnormal liver transaminases (n = 31) or hepatitis symptoms (n = 2), while others (n = 7) were identified through routine HCV testing.
A considerable proportion of HIV-positive MSM who did not inject drugs contracted HCV, presumably via sexual transmission and the main trigger for investigation was abnormal liver transaminases.
Differences in the determinants of Chlamydia trachomatis ('chlamydia') and Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) genital infection in women are not well understood.
A cohort study of 16 to 25 year old Australian women recruited from primary health care clinics, aimed to determine chlamydia and MG prevalence and incidence. Vaginal swabs collected at recruitment were used to measure chlamydia and MG prevalence, organism-load and chlamydia-serovar a cross-sectional analysis undertaken on the baseline results is presented here.
Of 1116 participants, chlamydia prevalence was 4.9% (95% CI: 2.9, 7.0) (n = 55) and MG prevalence was 2.4% (95% CI: 1.5, 3.3) (n = 27). Differences in the determinants were found - chlamydia not MG, was associated with younger age [AOR:0.9 (95% CI: 0.8, 1.0)] and recent antibiotic use [AOR:0.4 (95% CI: 0.2, 1.0)], and MG not chlamydia was associated with symptoms [AOR:2.1 (95% CI: 1.1, 4.0)]. Having two or more partners in last 12 months was more strongly associated with chlamydia [AOR:6.4 (95% CI: 3.6, 11.3)] than MG [AOR:2.2 (95% CI: 1.0, 4.6)] but unprotected sex with three or more partners was less strongly associated with chlamydia [AOR:3.1 (95%CI: 1.0, 9.5)] than MG [AOR:16.6 (95%CI: 2.0, 138.0)]. Median organism load for MG was 100 times lower (5.7 × 104/swab) than chlamydia (5.6 × 106/swab) (p < 0.01) and not associated with age or symptoms for chlamydia or MG.
These results demonstrate significant chlamydia and MG prevalence in Australian women, and suggest that the differences in strengths of association between numbers of sexual partners and unprotected sex and chlamydia and MG might be due to differences in the transmission dynamics between these infections.
Advances in communication technologies have dramatically changed how individuals access information and communicate. Recent studies have found that mobile phone text messages (SMS) can be used successfully for short-term behaviour change. However there is no published information examining the acceptability, utility and efficacy of different characteristics of health promotion SMS. This paper presents the results of evaluation focus groups among participants who received twelve sexual health related SMS as part of a study examining the impact of text messaging for sexual health promotion to on young people in Victoria, Australia.
Eight gender-segregated focus groups were held with 21 males and 22 females in August 2008. Transcripts of audio recordings were analysed using thematic analysis. Data were coded under one or more themes.
Text messages were viewed as an acceptable and 'personal' means of health promotion, with participants particularly valuing the informal language. There was a preference for messages that were positive, relevant and short and for messages to cover a variety of topics. Participants were more likely to remember and share messages that were funny, rhymed and/or tied into particular annual events. The message broadcasting, generally fortnightly on Friday afternoons, was viewed as appropriate. Participants said the messages provided new information, a reminder of existing information and reduced apprehension about testing for sexually transmitted infections.
Mobile phones, in particular SMS, offer health promoters an exciting opportunity to engage personally with a huge number of individuals for low cost. The key elements emerging from this evaluation, such as message style, language and broadcast schedule are directly relevant to future studies using SMS for health promotion, as well as for future health promotion interventions in other mediums that require short formats, such as social networking sites.
Genital chlamydia is the most commonly notified sexually transmissible infection (STI) in Australia and worldwide and can have serious reproductive health outcomes. Partner notification, testing and treatment are important facets of chlamydia control. Traditional methods of partner notification are not reaching enough partners to effectively control transmission of chlamydia. Patient-delivered partner therapy (PDPT) has been shown to improve the treatment of sexual partners. In Australia, General Practitioners (GPs) are responsible for the bulk of chlamydia testing, diagnosis, treatment and follow up. This study aimed to determine the views and practices of Australian general practitioners (GPs) in relation to partner notification and PDPT for chlamydia and explored GPs' perceptions of their patients' barriers to notifying partners of a chlamydia diagnosis.
In-depth, semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 40 general practitioners (GPs) from rural, regional and urban Australia from November 2006 to March 2007. Topics covered: GPs' current practice and views about partner notification, perceived barriers and useful supports, previous use of and views regarding PDPT.
Transcripts were imported into NVivo7 and subjected to thematic analysis. Data saturation was reached after 32 interviews had been completed.
Perceived barriers to patients telling partners (patient referral) included: stigma; age and cultural background; casual or long-term relationship, ongoing relationship or not. Barriers to GPs undertaking partner notification (provider referral) included: lack of time and staff; lack of contact details; uncertainty about the legality of contacting partners and whether this constitutes breach of patient confidentiality; and feeling both personally uncomfortable and inadequately trained to contact someone who is not their patient. GPs were divided on the use of PDPT - many felt concerned that it is not best clinical practice but many also felt that it is better than nothing.
GPs identified the following factors which they considered would facilitate partner notification: clear clinical guidelines; a legal framework around partner notification; a formal chlamydia screening program; financial incentives; education and practical support for health professionals, and raising awareness of chlamydia in the community, in particular amongst young people.
GPs reported some partners do not seek medical treatment even after they are notified of being a sexual contact of a patient with chlamydia. More routine use of PDPT may help address this issue however GPs in this study had negative attitudes to the use of PDPT. Appropriate guidelines and legislation may make the use of PDPT more acceptable to Australian GPs.
In pregnancy, untreated chlamydia infection has been associated with adverse outcomes for both mother and infant. Like most women, pregnant women infected with chlamydia do not report genital symptoms, and are therefore unlikely to be aware of their infection. The aim of this study was to determine the acceptability of screening pregnant women aged 16-25 years for chlamydia as part of routine antenatal care.
As part of a larger prospective, cross-sectional study of pregnant women aged 16-25 years attending antenatal services across Melbourne, Australia, 100 women were invited to participate in a face-to-face, semi structured interview on the acceptability of screening for chlamydia during pregnancy. Women infected with chlamydia were oversampled (n = 31).
Women had low levels of awareness of chlamydia before the test, retained relatively little knowledge after the test and commonly had misconceptions around chlamydia transmission, testing and sequelae. Women indicated a high level of acceptance and support for chlamydia screening, expressing their willingness to undertake whatever care was necessary to ensure the health of their baby. There was a strong preference for urine testing over other methods of specimen collection. Women questioned why testing was not already conducted alongside other antenatal STI screening tests, particularly in view of the risks chlamydia poses to the baby. Women who tested positive for chlamydia had mixed reactions, however, most felt relief and gratitude at having had chlamydia detected and reported high levels of partner support.
Chlamydia screening as part of routine antenatal care was considered highly acceptable among young pregnant women who recognized the benefits of screening and strongly supported its implementation as part of routine antenatal care. The acceptability of screening is important to the uptake of chlamydia screening in future antenatal screening strategies.
Partner notification is accepted as a vital component in the control of chlamydia. However, in reality, many sexual partners of individuals diagnosed with chlamydia are never informed of their risk. The newer technologies of email and SMS have been used as a means of improving partner notification rates. This study explored the use and acceptability of different partner notification methods to help inform the development of strategies and resources to increase the number of partners notified.
Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 40 people who were recently diagnosed with chlamydia from three sexual health centres and two general practices across three Australian jurisdictions.
Most participants chose to contact their partners either in person (56%) or by phone (44%). Only 17% chose email or SMS. Participants viewed face-to-face as the "gold standard" in partner notification because it demonstrated caring, respect and courage. Telephone contact, while considered insensitive by some, was often valued because it was quick, convenient and less confronting. Email was often seen as less personal while SMS was generally considered the least acceptable method for telling partners. There was also concern that emails and SMS could be misunderstood, not taken seriously or shown to others. Despite these, email and SMS were seen to be appropriate and useful in some circumstances. Letters, both from the patients or from their doctor, were viewed more favourably but were seldom used.
These findings suggest that many people diagnosed with chlamydia are reluctant to use the new technologies for partner notification, except in specific circumstances, and our efforts in developing partner notification resources may best be focused on giving patients the skills and confidence for personal interaction.