BMC health services research 2017 11 1517(1) 730 doi 10.1186/s12913-017-2681-6
Chlamydia trachomatis testing is offered to youth in Sweden, through a network of Youth Health Clinics, free at the point of care, in an attempt to bring down the prevalence and incidence of the infection. Nevertheless, infections rates have continued to rise during the past two decades and re-testing rates among youth for Chlamydia trachomatis has been reported to be high in Stockholm County. A few literature reports suggest that testing for sexually transmitted infections and the test result itself can have an undesirable impact on the sexual behaviour for the individual, i.e. increase sexual risk-taking.
This qualitative study aimed to explore the motives for repeated testing for Chlamydia trachomatis among youth using the services of the Youth Health Clinics in Stockholm, and how testing affects their subsequent risk-taking. We interviewed 15 repeat testers aging 18-22 years.
Our main findings were that the fear of social stigma related to infecting a peer was a major driver of the re-testing process. The repetitive testing process, the test result, and the encounter with personnel did not decrease sexual risk-taking among this group.
While testing and treatment services are an important part of Chlamydia trachomatis prevention it must not take the focus away from primary prevention strategies. Testing should be encouraged, but not to the exclusion of risk reduction measures. The testing services must be complemented with stronger emphasis on safe sex, especially for those who attend the clinics repeatedly, otherwise the easy accessible testing services risk counteracting its own purpose. Future research should focus on developing and evaluating youth appropriate interventions to increase condom use, taking into consideration factors which youth perceive as important to drive this behaviour change.