Background: Submission of self-obtained vaginal samples (SOVs) collected at home could remove barriers that women face in getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Internet recruitment of SOVs is highly acceptable.
Methods: Sexually active women ≥14 years were recruited by an educational Internet program, available at: www.iwantthekit.org (IWTK), which offered free testing for trichomonas as part of a panel, which also offered testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Kits were ordered online, SOVs were sent through US mail to the laboratory, and tested by nucleic acid amplification tests. Demographics and sexual risk factors were accessed by questionnaires. Women called or were contacted to receive their results.
Results: Of women requesting kits, 1525 (43%) returned swabs by mail. In all, 61% were <25 years, 52% were black, and 80% were single. Vaginal discharge was reported by 44%, prevalence for trichomonas was 10% (10% for chlamydia, 1% for gonorrhea), and 18% had at least one prevalent STI. Multivariate logistic regression demonstrated several significantly associated risks factors as follows: adjusted odds ratio for black race was 2.69; for residence of Illinois, 3.85; for not having health insurance, 1.57; for lack of a bachelor's degree, 5.53; for having 2 to 15 partners, 1.60; for having ≥16 partners in previous year, 3.51; for being bisexual, 2.0; for not always using condoms, 3.04; and for having a partner who had a previous STI, 1.71. Age was not associated with trichomonas infection. All infected women were treated.
Conclusions: A high prevalence of trichomonas and high sexual risk factors were demonstrated. Internet recruitment was a useful method of screening women for trichomonas infection.