Background: The frequency of testing sex workers for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Victoria, Australia, was changed from monthly to quarterly on 6 October 2012. Our aim was to determine the impact of this change to the clients seen at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MHSC).
Methods: Computerised medical records of all clients attending at MHSC from 7 October 2011 to 7 October 2013 were analysed.
Results: Comparing between the monthly and quarterly testing periods, the number of consultations at MSHC with female sex workers (FSW) halved from 6146 to 3453 (p<0.001) and the consultation time spent on FSW reduced by 40.6% (1942 h to 1153 h). More heterosexual men (p<0.001), and women (p<0.001) were seen in the quarterly testing period. The number of STIs diagnosed in the clinic increased from 2243 to 2589 from the monthly to quarterly period, respectively [15.4% increase (p<0.001)]. Up to AU$247,000 was saved on FSW testing after the shift to quarterly testing.
Conclusions: The change to STIs screening frequency for sex workers from monthly to quarterly resulted in a 15% increase in STI diagnoses in the clinic and approximate a quarter of a million dollars was diverted from FSW testing to other clients. Overall the change in frequency is likely to have had a beneficial effect on STI control in Victoria.