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Sex Transm Dis. 2001 Jun;28(6):321-5.

Self-collection of vaginal swabs for the detection of Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis: opportunity to encourage sexually transmitted disease testing among adolescents.

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Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, USA.



Many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are prevalent among adolescents, yet compliance to undergo STD testing by this population is suboptimal. Efforts to enhance compliance with testing among at-risk youth are needed.


To determine the feasibility and acceptability of self-collection of vaginal swabs for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Trichomonas vaginalis among high-school students attending a school health clinic.


Enrolled in the study were 228 female students between the ages of 15 and 19 years. Each student self-collected a single vaginal swab that was tested for C trachomatis, N gonorrhoeae, and T vaginalis by polymerase chain reaction amplification. Acceptability of self-collection of vaginal swabs was assessed.


The prevalence of any STD was 18%. Trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea were diagnosed in 10%, 8%, and 2% of students, respectively. Nearly 13% of females who had never previously had a gynecologic examination tested positive for an STD, and 51% of infected students would not have pursued testing by traditional gynecologic examination if self-collection was not offered. Self-collection of vaginal swabs was almost uniformly reported as easy to perform (99%) and preferable to a gynecologic examination (84%). Nearly all (97%) stated that they would undergo testing at frequent intervals if self-testing were available.


Self-collected vaginal swabs for STD testing can be easily implemented in a high-school setting with high acceptability among students, enabling the detection of many STDs that would otherwise remain undetected and untreated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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