Self-Collected STD Swabs, Samples Are Hit in Dutch Study


NICE, FRANCE — Self-collected vaginal swabs and urine samples provide clinicians with an opportunity to identify chlamydia and gonorrhea infections that would otherwise go undetected, Dr. Christian Hoebe said at the 16th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

That conclusion emerged from a cross-sectional survey that showed the two tests were feasible and highly accepted among 413 women, aged 16–35 years, attending a public STD clinic. The women reported in a questionnaire that the self-collected vaginal swabs and first-catch urine tests had clear instructions (97% and 93%); were easy to perform (95% and 92%); and were a “pleasant” method (98% and 99%).

More than three-quarters (77%) of the women preferred the self-administered tests over a traditional gynecologic STD exam. The refusal rate was 1.5% for self-collected vaginal swab specimens and 0% for urine samples. Analysis of the samples with an amplified DNA assay (the BD ProbeTec ET System, from BD Diagnostics in Sparks, Md.) detected Chlamydia trachomatis in 45 of 413 of patients (11%) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae in 6 of 413 (1.5%).

Chlamydia was detected in 8 of 43 patients (19%) with a prior STD and in 39 of 312 of 16− to 25-year-old women (13%).

Overall, 68% of the women had never undergone STD testing before, and 11% of these tested positive (Sex Transm. Dis. 2006 Mar 16;[Epub ahead of print]).

The patients' mean age was 23 years; 56% had engaged in prior risky behaviors; 17% had a risky partner; and 29% were fearful of STDs.

Reasons for taking the tests were: anonymity/privacy (68%), easy access (61%), and not having to undergo an intimate vaginal exam (12%), said Dr. Hoebe of the South Limburg Public Health Service, Heerlen, the Netherlands.

The percent agreement of the tests was 98.8% for chlamydia and 99.3% for gonorrhea, he said.

Next Article: