Could a same day test and treatment service in further education colleges improve uptake of chlamydia testing among young people?

Aquarius were part of a recent feasibility trial looking at whether provision of a same day test and treatment service for chlamydia in further education colleges increased uptake of chlamydia testing and treatment. The results of the trial were published this week in Clinical Microbiology and Infection and are available online.

Each year 125,000 young people in England are diagnosed with chlamydia – an easily treated sexually transmitted infection (STI) which is often asymptomatic. If left untreated, the infection can result in a number of complications including ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Chlamydia testing is widely available at sexual health clinics and via a postal testing service , however, uptake of testing among sexually active 16-24 year olds is currently too low to reduce infection rates in this group.

This cluster-randomised feasibility trial, coordinated by Professor Pippa Oakeshott at the Population Health Research Institute St George’s, assessed uptake rates, time to treatment and acceptability of a same day test and treat (TnT) service provided in higher education colleges. The free confidential TnT service was offered to sexually active students at three ethnically diverse colleges in South London whilst three similar colleges had no such service. At the start of the trial and after seven months, students at all six colleges were asked to provide a sample for chlamydia testing to assess the impact of the TnT service on chlamydia prevalence. Interviews were conducted with some of the students to find out what they thought of the TnT service.

Despite a high prevalence of chlamydia and promotion of the service to students, the uptake of chlamydia testing was low, with 13% of students being tested when the service was first offered and 10% when it was offered 3 months later. The interviews revealed that low uptake was associated with not feeling at risk, perceptions of stigma and lack of knowledge about STIs; however despite low uptake, everyone interviewed was positive about the TnT service.

The study protocol was previously published. Further results of the trial,  including the cost of providing such as service, will also be published.