Background: Implementing Chlamydia trachomatis screening in the Netherlands has been a point of debate for several years. The National Health Council advised against implementing nationwide screening until additional data collected from a pilot project in 2003 suggested that screening by risk profiles could be effective. A continuous increase in infections recorded in the national surveillance database affirmed the need for a more active approach. Here, we describe the rationale, design, and implementation of a Chlamydia screening demonstration programme.
Methods: A systematic, selective, internet-based Chlamydia screening programme started in April 2008. Letters are sent annually to all 16 to 29-year-old residents of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and selected municipalities of South Limburg. The letters invite sexually active persons to login to http://www.chlamydiatest.nl with a personal code and to request a test kit. In the lower prevalence area of South Limburg, test kits can only be requested if the internet-based risk assessment exceeds a predefined value.
Results: We sent invitations to 261,025 people in the first round. One-fifth of the invitees requested a test kit, of whom 80% sent in a sample for testing. The overall positivity rate was 4.2%.
Conclusions: This programme advances Chlamydia control activities in the Netherlands. Insight into the feasibility, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and impact of this large-scale screening programme will determine whether the programme will be implemented nationally.