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Open Access Research article

Young pregnant women's views on the acceptability of screening for chlamydia as part of routine antenatal care

Jade E Bilardi1*, Deborah L De Guingand2, Meredith J Temple-Smith3, Suzanne Garland45, Christopher K Fairley12, Sonia Grover6, Euan Wallace6, Jane S Hocking7, Sepehr Tabrizi45, Marie Pirotta3 and Marcus Y Chen12

Author Affiliations

1 Sexual Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

2 Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

3 Primary Care Research Unit, Department of General Practice, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

4 Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

5 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

6 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne Australia

7 Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:505  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-505

Published: 19 August 2010

Abstract

Background

In pregnancy, untreated chlamydia infection has been associated with adverse outcomes for both mother and infant. Like most women, pregnant women infected with chlamydia do not report genital symptoms, and are therefore unlikely to be aware of their infection. The aim of this study was to determine the acceptability of screening pregnant women aged 16-25 years for chlamydia as part of routine antenatal care.

Methods

As part of a larger prospective, cross-sectional study of pregnant women aged 16-25 years attending antenatal services across Melbourne, Australia, 100 women were invited to participate in a face-to-face, semi structured interview on the acceptability of screening for chlamydia during pregnancy. Women infected with chlamydia were oversampled (n = 31).

Results

Women had low levels of awareness of chlamydia before the test, retained relatively little knowledge after the test and commonly had misconceptions around chlamydia transmission, testing and sequelae. Women indicated a high level of acceptance and support for chlamydia screening, expressing their willingness to undertake whatever care was necessary to ensure the health of their baby. There was a strong preference for urine testing over other methods of specimen collection. Women questioned why testing was not already conducted alongside other antenatal STI screening tests, particularly in view of the risks chlamydia poses to the baby. Women who tested positive for chlamydia had mixed reactions, however, most felt relief and gratitude at having had chlamydia detected and reported high levels of partner support.

Conclusions

Chlamydia screening as part of routine antenatal care was considered highly acceptable among young pregnant women who recognized the benefits of screening and strongly supported its implementation as part of routine antenatal care. The acceptability of screening is important to the uptake of chlamydia screening in future antenatal screening strategies.