Objective: To estimate chlamydia prevalence among 16–29-year-olds attending general practice clinics in Australia.
Design, participants and setting: A cross-sectional survey was conducted from May 2010 to December 2012. Sexually experienced 16–29-year-olds were recruited from 134 general practice clinics in 54 rural and regional towns in four states and in nine metropolitan clinics (consecutive patients were invited to participate). Participants completed a questionnaire and were tested for chlamydia.
Main outcome measure: Chlamydia prevalence.
Results: Of 4284 participants, 197 tested positive for chlamydia (4.6%; 95% CI, 3.9%–5.3%). Prevalence was similar in men (5.2% [65/1257]; 95% CI, 3.9%–6.4%) and women (4.4% [132/3027]; 95% CI, 3.5%–5.2%) (P = 0.25) and high in those reporting genital symptoms or a partner with a sexually transmissible infection (STI) — 17.0% in men (8/47; 95% CI, 2.8%–31.2%); 9.5% in women (16/169; 95% CI, 5.1%–13.8%). Nearly three-quarters of cases (73.4% [130/177]) were diagnosed in asymptomatic patients attending for non-sexual health reasons, and 83.8% of all participants (3258/3890) had attended for non-sexual health reasons. Prevalence was slightly higher in participants from rural and regional areas (4.8% [179/3724]; 95% CI, 4.0%–5.6%) than those from metropolitan areas (3.1% [17/548]; 95% CI, 1.5%–4.7%) (P = 0.08). In multivariable analysis, increasing partner numbers in previous 12 months (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for three or more partners, 5.11 [95% CI, 2.35–11.08]), chlamydia diagnosis in previous 12 months (AOR, 4.35 [95% CI, 1.52–12.41]) and inconsistent condom use with most recent partner (AOR, 2.90 [95% CI, 1.31–6.40]) were significantly associated with chlamydia in men. In women, increasing partner numbers in previous 12 months (AOR for two partners, 2.59 [95% CI, 1.59–4.23]; AOR for three or more partners, 3.58 [95% CI, 2.26–5.68]), chlamydia diagnosis in previous 12 months (AOR, 3.13 [95% CI, 1.62–6.06]) and age (AOR for 25–29-year-olds, 0.23 [95% CI, 0.12–0.44]) were associated with chlamydia.
Conclusions: Chlamydia prevalence is similar in young men and women attending general practice. Testing only those with genital symptoms or a partner with an STI would have missed three-quarters of cases. Most men and women are amenable to being tested in general practice, even in rural and regional areas.
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