Many young people at highest risk for chlamydial infection do not use chlamydia screening services.
To describe young people's beliefs and opinions about obstacles to and motivators for obtaining testing and to provide recommendations for how to improve youth participation in chlamydia screening programs.
Eight focus group interviews (4 male and 4 female groups) were conducted with young people using a semistructured interview guide. Thirty-two male and 23 female volunteers (mean age, 18.2 years; age range, 15-24 years) were recruited from Job Corps and Department of Youth Services sites. The main outcome measure was categorization of textual data using content analysis techniques. Data were coded by 2 investigators into categories of responses based on research questions and spontaneously offered comments. Satisfactory intercoder agreement was achieved.
Participants described many obstacles to testing, including concern that someone will know they were tested or tested positive, fear about discovering they have a sexually transmitted disease, and fear of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Many participants were unsure what physical effects chlamydia produced or thought it was possible to die of a chlamydial infection. Participants recommended providing more information about the effects of chlamydia, availability of urine testing, and ease of treatment to motivate more young people to seek testing. They also emphasized the need to make sexually transmitted disease screening services more private and confidential. There was an overwhelming interest in using a home Chlamydia test (much like a home pregnancy test) if one were available.
To increase youth participation in screening programs, it will be necessary to address their concerns, dispel misconceptions, and provide more information about chlamydia. A home Chlamydia test might be one way to increase screening.