Self-obtained vaginal swabs for diagnosis of treatable sexually transmitted diseases in adolescent girls

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001 Jun;155(6):676-9. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.155.6.676.


Objective: To ascertain the acceptability of testing and prevalence of 3 readily treatable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) (infections with Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Trichomonas vaginalis) with the use of patient-obtained vaginal swabs.

Study design: Study participants at each initial session were asked to provide self-obtained vaginal swabs for ligase chain reaction testing to detect N gonorrhoeae and C trachomatis, and for culture of T vaginalis.

Setting: Behavioral intervention sessions with African American adolescent girls in a nonclinical program to reduce risk of STDs, human immunodeficiency virus infection, and pregnancy.

Results: All study participants were offered their choice of STD screening in the context of a traditional pelvic examination or using self-obtained vaginal swabs. All eligible participants chose self-administered vaginal swabs. Of the 512 participants examined at their initial study visit, 28.7% were found to be infected with 1 or more treatable STDs (5.3% with N gonorrhoeae, 17.8% with C trachomatis, and 12.9% with T vaginalis).

Conclusions: With the use of newer detection systems, STDs can be readily detected in nonclinical settings with the use of self-obtained vaginal swabs, providing new opportunities for efforts to control STDs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Black or African American
  • Chlamydia Infections / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Ligase Chain Reaction
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Trichomonas Vaginitis / diagnosis
  • Vaginal Smears*