Potential for community-based screening, treatment, and antibiotic prophylaxis for syphilis prevention

Sex Transm Dis. 2000 Apr;27(4):188-92. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200004000-00002.


Background: The recent syphilis epidemic in Louisiana occurred predominantly among disadvantaged African Americans who may distrust public health agencies and prevention efforts.

Objectives: To determine community perceptions regarding trust and use of public health clinics, to assess whether race of provider is important to persons at risk for syphilis, and to assess the willingness of persons to participate in syphilis screening, treatment, and antibiotic prophylaxis.

Study design: Qualitative interviews were conducted with 18 community leaders and 38 community members who were at risk for syphilis. Quantitative surveys were completed by persons with primary or secondary syphilis (n = 92), their sexual contacts (n = 56), and with neighborhood controls (n = 143). Three possible programs for syphilis screening and antibiotic prophylaxis were proposed (1) bar setting; (2) home setting, and (3) mobile health-van setting in high-risk communities.

Results: In qualitative interviews, community leaders and community members reported a high degree of trust in the public sexually transmitted disease clinic. A majority of respondents felt that race was not a factor in choosing healthcare providers. Respondents favored the provision of services in a mobile health van over in a bar or in their homes. In quantitative interviews, more than 80% of community members surveyed reported that they would go to a mobile health van for syphilis testing. Nearly two thirds of respondents reported that they would be willing to take oral prophylaxis for syphilis, and more than half of respondents reported that they would accept an injection.

Conclusions: Community members trust the public sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic, are generally not concerned with the race of healthcare providers, and are supportive of community-based STD screening, treatment, and antibiotic prophylaxis provided from a mobile clinic.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis*
  • Black or African American
  • Community Health Services*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Louisiana
  • Male
  • Mass Screening* / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Health Units
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syphilis / prevention & control*
  • White People