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1.  Do Australian general practitioners believe practice nurses can take a role in chlamydia testing? A qualitative study of attitudes and opinions 
Chlamydia notifications continue to rise in young people in many countries and regular chlamydia testing is an important prevention strategy. Although there have been initiatives to increase testing in primary care, none have specifically investigated the role of practice nurses (PNs) in maximising testing rates. PNs have previously expressed a willingness to be involved, but noted lack of support from general practitioners (GPs) as a barrier. We sought GPs’ attitudes and opinions on PNs taking an expanded role in chlamydia testing and partner notification.
In the context of a cluster randomised trial in mostly rural towns in 4 Australian states, semi structured interviews were conducted with 44 GPs between March 2011 and July 2012. Data relating to PN involvement in chlamydia testing were thematically analysed using a conventional content analysis approach.
The majority of GPs interviewed felt that a role for PNs in chlamydia testing was appropriate. GPs felt that PNs had more time for patient education and advice, that patients would find PNs easier to talk to and less intimidating than GPs, and that GPs themselves could benefit through a reduction in their workload. Although GPs felt that PNs could be utilised more effectively for preventative health activities such as chlamydia testing, many raised concerns about how these activities would be renumerated whilst some felt that existing workload pressures for PNs could make it difficult for them to expand their role. Whilst some rural GPs recognised that PNs might be well placed to conduct partner notification, they also recognised that issues of patient privacy and confidentiality related to living in a “small town” was also a concern.
This is the first qualitative study to explore GPs’ views around an increased role for PNs in chlamydia testing. Despite the concerns raised by PNs, these findings suggest that GPs support the concept and recognise that PNs are suited to the role. However issues raised, such as funding and remuneration may act as barriers that will need to be addressed before PNs are supported to make a contribution to increasing chlamydia testing rates in general practice.
PMCID: PMC4314754
2.  Improving Oral Human Papillomavirus Detection Using Toothbrush Sampling in HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex with Men 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(6):2206-2209.
Pre- and postabrasion oral rinse samples (ORS) and a toothbrush sample detected human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA in at least one sample among 45 (26%) of 173 HIV-positive men who have sex with men. There was moderate agreement for HPV genotype detection between the preabrasion and postabrasion ORS (κ = 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.37 to 0.61). There was good agreement between postabrasion ORS and toothbrushes (κ = 0.70; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.80). The sensitivities for HPV genotypes detected were 80% (95% CI, 69 to 88) for preabrasion ORS, 65% (95% CI, 54 to 76) for postabrasion ORS, and 75% (95% CI, 63 to 84) for toothbrushes.
PMCID: PMC4042741  PMID: 24719435
3.  Factors Associated with Participation and Attrition in a Longitudinal Study of Bacterial Vaginosis in Australian Women Who Have Sex with Women 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113452.
A number of social and sexual risk factors for bacterial vaginosis (BV) have been described. It is important to understand whether these factors are associated with non-participation or attrition of participants from longitudinal studies in order to examine potential for recruitment or attrition bias. We describe factors associated with participation and attrition in a 24-month prospective cohort study, investigating incident BV among Australian women who have sex with women.
Study Design and Setting
Participants negative for prevalent BV were offered enrolment in a longitudinal cohort study. Participants self-collected vaginal samples and completed questionnaires 3-monthly to endpoint (BV-positive/BV-negative by 24 months). Factors associated with participation in the cohort study were examined by logistic regression and factors associated with attrition from the cohort were examined by Cox regression.
The cross-sectional study recruited 457 women. 334 BV-negative women were eligible for the cohort and 298 (89%, 95%CI 85, 92) enrolled. Lower educational levels (aOR 2.72, 95%CI 1.09, 6.83), smoking (aOR 2.44, 95%CI 1.13, 5.27), past BV symptoms (aOR 3.42, 95%CI 1.16, 10.10) and prior genital warts (aOR 2.71, 95%CI 1.14, 6.46) were associated with non-participation; a partner co-enrolling increased participation (aOR 3.73, 95%CI 1.43, 9.70). 248 participants (83%, 95%CI 78, 87) were retained to study endpoint (BV-negative at 24 months or BV-positive at any stage). Attrition was associated being <30 yrs (aHR 2.15, 95%CI 1.13, 4.10) and a male partner at enrolment (aHR 6.12, 95%CI 1.99, 18.82).
We achieved high participation and retention levels in a prospective cohort study and report factors influencing participation and retention of participants over a 24-month study period, which will assist in the design and implementation of future cohort studies in sexual health and disease.
PMCID: PMC4239064  PMID: 25412421
4.  Improving chlamydia knowledge should lead to increased chlamydia testing among Australian general practitioners: a cross-sectional study of chlamydia testing uptake in general practice 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):584.
Female general practitioners (GPs) have higher chlamydia testing rates than male GPs, yet it is unclear whether this is due to lack of knowledge among male GPs or because female GPs consult and test more female patients.
GPs completed a survey about their demographic details and knowledge about genital chlamydia. Chlamydia testing and consultation data for patients aged 16-29 years were extracted from the medical records software for each GP and linked to their survey responses. Chi-square tests were used to determine differences in a GP’s knowledge and demographics. Two multivariable models that adjusted for the gender of the patient were used to investigate associations between a GP and their chlamydia testing rates ― Model 1 included GPs’ characteristics such as age and gender, Model 2 excluded these characteristics to specifically examine any associations with knowledge.
Female GPs were more likely than male GPs to know when to re-test a patient after a negative chlamydia test (18.8% versus 9.7%, p = 0.01), the correct symptoms suggestive of PID (80.5% versus 67.8%, p = 0.01) and the correct tests for diagnosing PID (57.1% versus 42.6%, p = 0.01). Female GPs tested 6.5% of patients, while male GPs tested 2.2% (p < 0.01). Model 1 found factors associated with chlamydia testing were being a female GP (OR = 2.5, 95% CI: 1.9, 3.3) and working in a metropolitan clinic (OR = 3.2; 95% CI: 2.4, 4.3). Model 2 showed that chlamydia testing increased as knowledge of testing guidelines improved (3-5 correct answers – AOR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.0, 4.2; 6+ correct answers – AOR = 2.9, 95% CI: 1.4, 6.2).
Higher rates of chlamydia testing are strongly associated with GPs who are female, based in a metropolitan clinic and among those with more knowledge of the recommended guidelines. Improving chlamydia knowledge among male GPs may increase chlamydia testing.
PMCID: PMC4228271  PMID: 25409698
Chlamydia testing; General practice; Sexual health knowledge; General practitioner education
5.  Detection of Oral Human Papillomavirus in HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex with Men 3 Years after Baseline: A Follow Up Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102138.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a causative agent in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. The natural history of oral HPV in HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) is unclear.
Detection of oral human papillomavirus in 173 HIV-positive MSM using oral rinse samples 3 years apart was investigated. HPV DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction, and genotyped by Roche Linear Array.
Of 173 men tested in 2010, 30 had at least one HPV genotype (17%, 95% CI: 12–23), 15 at least one hr-HPV (9%, 95% CI: 5–14) and 8 had HPV 16 (5%, 95% CI: 2–9) detected. In 2013, 33 had at least one HPV genotype (19%, 95% CI: 14–26), 20 had at least one hr-HPV (12%, 95% CI: 7–17) and 7 had HPV 16 (4%, 95% CI: 2–8) detected. Of 30 men at baseline (2010) with any HPV detected, 14 (47%, 95% CI: 28–66) had at least one persistent genotype. Of the 15 men in 2010 with high risk (hr-) HPV, 6 men (40%, 95% CI: 16–68) had at least one persistent hr-HPV genotype. The incidence rate of detection of at least one new HPV genotype was 4.8 per 100 person years (95% CI: 3.1–7.0), of at least one hr-HPV genotype was 3.2 per 100 person years (95% CI: 1.8–5.1) and of HPV 16 was 0.8 per 100 person years (95% CI: 0.2–2.0). The clearance rate was 14.9 per 100 person years (95% CI: 8.2–24.2) for any HPV, 18.2 per 100 person years (95% CI: 8.2–32.7) for hr-HPV and 17.4 per 100 person years (95% CI: 5.0–38.8) for HPV-16. Persistent HPV detection was associated with duration of HIV (OR 1.13 (per additional year), 95% CI: 1.00–1.26) and tonsillectomy (OR 8.17, 95% CI: 1.30–51.40).
The same oral HPV genotype was detected again after 3 years in nearly half of HIV-positive men who have sex with men.
PMCID: PMC4102527  PMID: 25033212
6.  Rationale and design of REACT: a randomised controlled trial assessing the effectiveness of home-collection to increase chlamydia retesting and detect repeat positive tests 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:223.
Repeat infection with Chlamydia trachomatis is common and increases the risk of sequelae in women and HIV seroconversion in men who have sex with men (MSM). Despite guidelines recommending chlamydia retesting three months after treatment, retesting rates are low. We are conducting the first randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of home collection combined with short message service (SMS) reminders on chlamydia retesting and reinfection rates in three risk groups.
The REACT (retest after Chlamydia trachomatis) trial involves 600 patients diagnosed with chlamydia: 200 MSM, 200 women and 200 heterosexual men recruited from two Australian sexual health clinics where SMS reminders for retesting are routine practice. Participants will be randomised to the home group (3-month SMS reminder and home-collection) or the clinic group (3-month SMS reminder to return to the clinic). Participants in the home group will be given the choice of attending the clinic if they prefer. The mailed home-collection kit includes a self-collected vaginal swab (women), UriSWAB (Copan) for urine collection (heterosexual men), and UriSWAB plus rectal swab (MSM). The primary outcome is the retest rate at 1-4 months after a chlamydia diagnosis, and the secondary outcomes are: the repeat positive test rate; the reinfection rate; the acceptability of home testing with SMS reminders; and the cost effectiveness of home testing. Sexual behaviour data collected via an online survey at 4-5 months, and genotyping of repeat infections, will be used to discriminate reinfections from treatment failures. The trial will be conducted over two years. An intention to treat analysis will be conducted.
This study will provide evidence about the effectiveness of home-collection combined with SMS reminders on chlamydia retesting, repeat infection and reinfection rates in three risk groups. The trial will determine client acceptability and cost effectiveness of this strategy.
Trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000968976.
PMCID: PMC4002559  PMID: 24758169
Chlamydia; Retesting; Positivity; Reinfection; Home-collection
7.  Hospitalisations for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Temporally Related to a Diagnosis of Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea: A Retrospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94361.
The presence and severity of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) symptoms are thought to vary by microbiological etiology but there is limited empirical evidence. We sought to estimate and compare the rates of hospitalisation for PID temporally related to diagnoses of gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
All women, aged 15–45 years in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), with a diagnosis of chlamydia or gonorrhoea between 01/07/2000 and 31/12/2008 were followed by record linkage for up to one year after their chlamydia or gonorrhoea diagnosis for hospitalisations for PID. Standardised incidence ratios compared the incidence of PID hospitalisations to the age-equivalent NSW population.
A total of 38,193 women had a chlamydia diagnosis, of which 483 were hospitalised for PID; incidence rate (IR) 13.9 per 1000 person-years of follow-up (PYFU) (95%CI 12.6–15.1). In contrast, 1015 had a gonorrhoea diagnosis, of which 45 were hospitalised for PID (IR 50.8 per 1000 PYFU, 95%CI 36.0–65.6). The annual incidence of PID hospitalisation temporally related to a chlamydia or gonorrhoea diagnosis was 27.0 (95%CI 24.4–29.8) and 96.6 (95%CI 64.7–138.8) times greater, respectively, than the age-equivalent NSW female population. Younger age, socio-economic disadvantage, having a diagnosis prior to 2005 and having a prior birth were also associated with being hospitalised for PID.
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are both associated with large increases in the risk of PID hospitalisation. Our data suggest the risk of PID hospitalisation is much higher for gonorrhoea than chlamydia; however, further research is needed to confirm this finding.
PMCID: PMC3990571  PMID: 24743388
8.  How Effective Are Short Message Service Reminders at Increasing Clinic Attendance? A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review 
Health Services Research  2011;47(2):614-632.
Background and Objectives
In the last few years there has been a steady uptake of mobile phone short message service (SMS) reminders to increase medical attendance rates. We undertook a review of studies that assessed the effectiveness of SMS reminders at increasing the uptake of appointments in health care settings.
We reviewed studies which involved a comparison of appointment attendance rates between patients who did and did not receive SMS reminders published prior to June 2010. We used meta-analysis methods to calculate the overall effect on attendance rates, stratified by study design and clinic type.
The review criteria were met by 18 reports, made up of eight randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 10 controlled observational studies. Across all studies, there was significant heterogeneity in the estimated effect measure of the relationship between use of SMS reminders and clinic attendance (I2 = 90 percent; p < .01), so a summary effect estimate was not calculated. Stratification by study design showed that the heterogeneity was due to the observational studies. The summary effect from the RCTs was 1.48 (95% CI: 1.23–1.72) with no significant subgroup differences by clinic type (primary care clinics, hospital outpatient clinics), message timing (24, 48, and 72+ hours before the scheduled appointment), and target age group (pediatric, older).
Short message service reminders in health care settings substantially increase the likelihood of attending clinic appointments. SMS reminders appear to be a simple and efficient option for health services to use to improve service delivery, as well as resulting in health benefits for the patients who receive the reminders.
PMCID: PMC3419880  PMID: 22091980
Reminder systems; appointment; health services; review
10.  Chlamydia Detection during the Menstrual Cycle: A Cross-Sectional Study of Women Attending a Sexual Health Service 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85263.
We investigated the detection of chlamydia at different stages of the menstrual cycle.
Electronic medical records for women attending Melbourne Sexual Health Centre between March 2011 and 31st December 2012, who were tested for chlamydia by nucleic acid amplification of high vaginal, cervical, or urinary samples, and who recorded a date of last normal menstrual period (LNMP) between 0–28 days were included in the analysis. Logistic regression was used to calculate adjusted odds ratio (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association of chlamydia with menstrual cycle adjusted by demographics and behavioural variables. Chlamydia and beta globin load were determined on those with stored samples.
Of the 10,017 consultations that included a test for chlamydia and a valid LNMP, there were 417 in which chlamydia was detected. The proportion of samples with chlamydia was greater in the luteal phase (4.8%, 184/3831) than in the follicular phase (3.4%, 233/6816) both in the crude (OR 1.29 95%CI 1.1–1.6, p = 0.01) and adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.4 (95%CI 1.1–1.8, p = 0.004). Among women using hormonal contraception, there was no significant association with the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (aOR 1.3, 95%CI 0.9, 1.8, p = 0.18). Among women not using hormonal contraception, there was a significant association with the luteal phase (aOR 1.6, (95% CI 1.1–2.3, p = 0.007). The chlamydia load was not significantly different in the 329 positive stored samples in weeks 3 and 4 vs weeks 1 and 2 for any site (P>0.12).
The higher detection of chlamydia detection in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle in only those not taking hormonal contraception suggest that hormonal factors influence chlamydia detection. The absence of a significantly highly chlamydia load in women during the luteal phase raises questions about the mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3903481  PMID: 24475042
11.  The chlamydia knowledge, awareness and testing practices of Australian general practitioners and practice nurses: survey findings from the Australian Chlamydia Control Effectiveness Pilot (ACCEPt) 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:169.
ACCEPt, a large cluster randomized control trial, aims to determine if annual testing for 16 to 29 year olds in general practice can reduce chlamydia prevalence. ACCEPt is the first trial investigating the potential role of practice nurses (PN) in chlamydia testing. To inform the design of the ACCEPt intervention, we aimed to determine the chlamydia knowledge, attitudes, and testing practices of participating general practitioners (GPs) and PNs.
GPs and PNs from 143 clinics recruited from 52 areas in 4 Australian states were asked to complete a survey at time of recruitment. Responses of PNs and GPs were compared using conditional logistic regression to account for possible intra cluster correlation within clinics.
Of the PNs and GPs enrolled in ACCEPt, 81% and 72% completed the questionnaire respectively. Less than a third of PNs (23%) and GPs (32%) correctly identified the two age groups with highest infection rates in women and only 16% vs 17% the correct age groups in men. More PNs than GPs would offer testing opportunistically to asymptomatic patients aged ≤25 years; women having a pap smear (84% vs 55%, P<0.01); antenatal checkup (83% vs 44%, P<0.01) and Aboriginal men with a sore throat (79% vs 33%, P<0.01), but also to patients outside of the guideline age group at the time of the survey; 26 year old males presenting for a medical check (78% vs 30%, P = <0.01) and 33 year old females presenting for a pill prescription (83% vs 55%, P<0.01). More PNs than GPs knew that retesting was recommended after chlamydia treatment (93% vs 87%, P=0.027); and the recommended timeframe was 3 months (66% vs 26%, P<0.01). A high proportion of PNs (90%) agreed that they could conduct chlamydia testing in general practice, with 79% wanting greater involvement and 89% further training.
Our survey reveals gaps in chlamydia knowledge and management among GPs and PNs that may be contributing to low testing rates in general practice. The ACCEPt intervention is well targeted to address these and support clinicians in increasing testing rates. PNs could have a role in increasing chlamydia testing.
PMCID: PMC3827502  PMID: 24219113
12.  Hormonal Contraception Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Bacterial Vaginosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73055.
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.
PMCID: PMC3762860  PMID: 24023807
13.  A cohort study of Chlamydia trachomatis treatment failure in women: a study protocol 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:379.
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.
PMCID: PMC3751832  PMID: 23957327
Chlamydia trachomatis; Azithromycin; Treatment failure; Re-infection; Sexually transmitted infections
14.  Population movement can sustain STI prevalence in remote Australian indigenous communities 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:188.
For almost two decades, chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnosis rates in remote Indigenous communities have been up to 30 times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians. The high levels of population movement known to occur between remote communities may contribute to these high rates.
We developed an individual-based computer simulation model to study the relationship between population movement and the persistence of gonorrhoea and chlamydia transmission within hypothetical remote communities.
Results from our model suggest that short-term population movement can facilitate gonorrhoea and chlamydia persistence in small populations. By fixing the number of short-term travellers in accordance with census data, we found that these STIs can persist if at least 20% of individuals in the population seek additional partners while away from home and if the time away from home is less than 21 days. Periodic variations in travel patterns can contribute to increased sustainable levels of infection. Expanding existing STI testing and treatment programs to cater for short-term travellers is shown to be ineffective due to their short duration of stay. Testing and treatment strategies tailored to movement patterns, such as encouraging travellers to seek testing and treatment upon return from travel, will likely be more effective.
High population mobility is likely to contribute to the high levels of STIs observed in remote Indigenous communities of Australia. More detailed data on mobility patterns and sexual behaviour of travellers will be invaluable for designing and assessing STI control programs in highly mobile communities.
PMCID: PMC3641953  PMID: 23618061
Mobility; Indigenous population; Remote communities; Chlamydia; Gonorrhoea
15.  Evaluation of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) at Large Urban Primary Care Sexual Health Centre 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60636.
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.
PMCID: PMC3617089  PMID: 23593268
16.  Prevalent and Incident Bacterial Vaginosis Are Associated with Sexual and Contraceptive Behaviours in Young Australian Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57688.
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.
PMCID: PMC3589386  PMID: 23472099
17.  Home-based chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening: a systematic review of strategies and outcomes 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:189.
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.
PMCID: PMC3599833  PMID: 23496833
Sexually transmitted infections; Chlamydia trachomatis; Screening; Home
18.  The prevalence of anal human papillomavirus among young HIV negative men who have sex with men 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:341.
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.
PMCID: PMC3538051  PMID: 23217024
Human papillomavirus (HPV); Men who have sex with men; Prevalence
19.  Oral Human Papillomavirus in Men Having Sex with Men: Risk-Factors and Sampling 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49324.
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.
PMCID: PMC3500282  PMID: 23173054
20.  Improving Adherence to Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: A Systematic Review 
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.
PMCID: PMC3437626  PMID: 22973085
21.  Chlamydia trachomatis Incidence and Re-Infection among Young Women – Behavioural and Microbiological Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37778.
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.
PMCID: PMC3360595  PMID: 22662220
22.  The prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis infection in Australia: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:113.
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.
PMCID: PMC3462140  PMID: 22583480
Chlamydia; Meta-analysis; Prevalence; Systematic review
23.  Efficacy of Oral Metronidazole with Vaginal Clindamycin or Vaginal Probiotic for Bacterial Vaginosis: Randomised Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34540.
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.
Trial Registration ACTRN12607000350426
PMCID: PMC3317998  PMID: 22509319
24.  Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Candidate Bacteria: Associations with BV and Behavioural Practices in Sexually-Experienced and Inexperienced Women 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30633.
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.
PMCID: PMC3281856  PMID: 22363457
25.  Young people's views on the potential use of telemedicine consultations for sexual health: results of a national survey 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:285.
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.
PMCID: PMC3213067  PMID: 22026640

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