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1.  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
2.  Introduction of a sexual health practice nurse is associated with increased STI testing of men who have sex with men in primary care 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:298.
The study objective was to investigate the effect of the introduction of a sexual health practice nurse on HIV and STI testing in a general practice that specialized in gay men’s health.
This observational study compared the proportion of gay and other men who have sex with men (MSM) tested for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia (urethral and anal) and gonorrhoea (anal), or all of the above (defined as a complete set of tests at a single visit), two years before and one year after the nurse was introduced (Clinic A). Clinic B, a general practice which also specialized in gay men’s health, but with no sexual health nurse, was used as a control.
In Clinic A, amongst HIV negative MSM the proportion of men who had a complete set of HIV and STI tests increased from 41% to 47% (p < 0.01) after the nurse was introduced. Amongst HIV positive MSM attending clinic A there was an increase in the proportion of men who had a complete set of tests after the nurse was introduced from 27% to 43% (p < 0.001). In Clinic B there was no significant increase in testing in the proportion of either HIV negative or HIV positive men who had a complete set of tests over the same time periods.
The introduction of the sexual health practice nurse resulted in significant increases in episodes of complete STI testing among MSM. The effect was most pronounced among HIV positive MSM.
PMCID: PMC3702429  PMID: 23815371
Primary health care; Nursing; Men who have sex with men; HIV; Sexually transmitted infections; Screening
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  Incidence of Hepatitis-C among HIV infected men who have sex with men (MSM) attending a sexual health service: a cohort study 
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.
PMCID: PMC3040713  PMID: 21291565
7.  'The difference in determinants of Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycoplasma genitalium in a sample of young Australian women.' 
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.
PMCID: PMC3038161  PMID: 21284887
8.  Better than nothing? Patient-delivered partner therapy and partner notification for chlamydia: the views of Australian general practitioners 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:274.
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.
PMCID: PMC2949762  PMID: 20849663
9.  Telling partners about chlamydia: how acceptable are the new technologies? 
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.
PMCID: PMC2838890  PMID: 20211029
10.  Sex and sport: chlamydia screening in rural sporting clubs 
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common notifiable disease in Australia, mainly affecting those aged 15 to 29 years. Testing rates are low in Australia and considerably lower in rural areas, with access and confidentiality of sexual health services being problematic in rural and regional areas. This study aimed to determine the feasibility of establishing a pilot chlamydia testing outreach program among 16–25 year old males and females in rural Victoria (Australia) undertaken at local sporting clubs and to determine the prevalence of chlamydia and acceptability of the program in this population.
We aimed to recruit young people from the Loddon Mallee region of Victoria, Australia between May and September 2007. After a night of sporting practice, participants provided a first pass urine sample, completed a brief questionnaire regarding risk taking behaviour and were then provided with condoms and health promotion materials about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Those positive for chlamydia were managed by telephone consultation with a practitioner from Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.
A total of 709 young people participated (77% male, 23% female), 77% being sexually active. All provided a urine sample and completed the questionnaire. Participation rate on recruitment nights was over 95%. Overall chlamydia prevalence in those sexually active was 5.1% (95%CI: 3.4–7.3), 7.4% in females (95%CI: 3.5–13.6) and 4.5% in males (95%CI: 2.7–6.9).
Sporting clubs represent a feasible, acceptable and innovative community based setting to screen, treat and educate young people in a rural and regional setting, especially for males.
PMCID: PMC2695469  PMID: 19470183
11.  The experience of providing young people attending general practice with an online risk assessment tool to assess their own sexual health risk 
Targeted chlamydia screening has been advocated to reduce chlamydia associated reproductive sequelae. General practitioners are well positioned to play a major role in chlamydia control. The primary aim of this pilot study was to measure the effect of offering an online sexual health assessment tool, Youth Check Your Risk, on chlamydia testing rates among young people attending general practices. The secondary aim was to test the acceptability of the tool among general practitioners and young people.
General practitioners at three practices in Melbourne, Australia, referred patients aged 16 to 24 years to Youth Check Your Risk for use post-consultation between March to October 2007. The proportion of young people tested for chlamydia before and during the implementation of the tool was compared. Acceptability was assessed through a structured interviewer-administered questionnaire with general practitioners, and anonymous online data provided by Youth Check Your Risk users.
The intervention did not result in any significant increases in the proportion of 16 to 24 year old males (2.7% to 3.0%) or females (6.3% to 6.4%) tested for chlamydia. A small increase in the proportion of 16 to 19 year old females tested was seen (4.1% to 7.2%). Of the 2997 patients seen during the intervention phase, 871 (29.1%) were referred to Youth Check Your Risk and 120 used it (13.8%). Major reasons for low referral rates reported by practitioners included lack of time, discomfort with raising the issue of testing, and difficulty in remembering to refer patients.
Offering an online sexual risk assessment tool in general practice did not significantly increase the proportion of young people tested for chlamydia, with GPs identifying a number of barriers to referring young people to Youth Check Your Risk. Future interventions aimed at increasing chlamydia screening in general practice with the aid of an online risk assessment tool need to identify and overcome barriers to testing.
PMCID: PMC2664815  PMID: 19284635

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