“Something We'd Rather Not Talk About”: Findings from CDC Exploratory Research on Sexually Transmitted Disease Communication with Girls and Women

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.
Journal of Women's Health (Impact Factor: 2.05). 10/2010; 19(10):1823-31. DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2010.1961
Source: PubMed


Chlamydia is a leading cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility. Annual Chlamydia screening is recommended for all sexually active women aged ≤ 25 years, yet only about 40% of eligible women are screened each year in the United States. To promote Chlamydia screening for the prevention of infertility, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is developing direct-to-consumer efforts for sexually active young women and key influencers. To inform this effort, CDC sought to explore girls'/women's understandings of sexually transmitted disease (STD) and Chlamydia testing and STD communications and information sources.
Two waves of one-on-one interviews (n = 125) were conducted in 10 metropolitan areas with African American, Caucasian, and Latina females, aged 15-25 years.
Most participants were not knowledgeable about Chlamydia or its screening; their discussions about it suggested low levels of perceived susceptibility or relevance to Chlamydia and screening. STDs are rarely discussed in home or social settings or with partners or close friends; yet young women may turn to interpersonal sources if concerned about an STD. Providers are the primary and preferred source of STD information for girls and women, although missed opportunities for engaging young women in STD/sexual health discussions were identified in clinical and other settings.
Providers, family members, friends, and partners may serve as important intermediaries for reaching young women and encouraging STD/Chlamydia screening. Resources are identified that could be leveraged and/or developed to facilitate such interactions.

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