Coverage and uptake of systematic postal screening for genital Chlamydia trachomatis and prevalence of infection in the United Kingdom general population: cross sectional study.
Macleod J., Salisbury C., Low N., McCarthy A., Sterne JA., Holloway A., Patel R., Sanford E., Morcom A., Horner P., Davey Smith G., Skidmore S., Herring A., Caul O., Hobbs FD., Egger M.
OBJECTIVE: To measure the coverage and uptake of systematic postal screening for genital Chlamydia trachomatis and the prevalence of infection in the general population in the United Kingdom. To investigate factors associated with these measures. DESIGN: Cross sectional survey of people randomly selected from general practice registers. Invitation to provide a specimen collected at home. SETTING: England. PARTICIPANTS: 19,773 men and women aged 16-39 years invited to participate in screening. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Coverage and uptake of screening; prevalence of chlamydia. RESULTS: Coverage of chlamydia screening was 73% and was lower in areas with a higher proportion of non-white residents. Uptake in 16-24 year olds was 31.5% and was lower in men, younger adults, and practices in disadvantaged areas. Overall prevalence of chlamydia was 2.8% (95%confidence interval 2.2% to 3.4%) in men and 3.6% (3.1% to 4.9%) in women, but it was higher in people younger than 25 years (men 5.1%; 4.0% to 6.3%; women 6.2%; 5.2% to 7.8%). Prevalence was higher in the subgroup of younger women who were harder to engage in screening. The strongest determinant of chlamydial infection was having one or more new sexual partners in the past year. CONCLUSIONS: Postal chlamydia screening was feasible, but coverage was incomplete and uptake was modest. Lower coverage of postal screening in areas with more non-white residents along with poorer uptake in more deprived areas and among women at higher risk of infection could mean that screening leads to wider inequalities in sexual health.