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.