Background: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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).
Conclusion: 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.