Background: Adolescent and young adult minority women are at high risk for chlamydia (CT) and gonorrhea (NGC) cervical infections, which are significant causes of pelvic inflammatory disease, impaired fertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pain. The purpose of this article is to review among young women in the United States: (1) the epidemiology of CT and NGC cervical infection and their medical complications; (2) current public health recommendations to promote asymptomatic CT and NGC screening; (3) current screening practices and challenges of implementing public health recommendations; (4) testing and cost issues; and (5) future directions in promoting asymptomatic CT and NGC screening.
Methods: We conducted a MEDLINE search for articles published over the last two decades relating to CT and NGC screening in young women and then systematically reviewed all relevant articles.
Results: The data indicate that CT and NGC infection are geographically widespread in the U.S. and asymptomatic infection is highly prevalent among economically disadvantaged young females. Public health recommendations promoting CT and NGC screening in asymptomatic young women are directed to both health care providers and clients. However, strategies to promote screening efforts have been primarily directed toward health care providers; there are no published studies on client-initiated screening strategies. Challenges of implementing public health recommendations and future directions for CT and NGC screening are discussed.
Conclusions: Young sexually active women continue to be at high risk for CT and NGC infection. The data indicate that implementation of health provider-based and client-initiated screening in private and public health care settings is a challenge. However, there is a great need to develop strategies to understand and promote client-initiated screening.