The Internet and the mail proved to be good aids in tracing chlamydia among young men. The results of an acclaimed project at Umeå University in Sweden are now being published in the September issue of the journal Eurosurveillance. With this method, 39 percent (396 of 1,016 interviewees), which is the highest published participation rate ever in a chlamydia screening of young men.
The project, being run by the researching general practitioner Daniel Novak together with his thesis director Roger Karlsson and Monica Jonsson at the Unit for General Medicine, covered all 22-year-old men in Umeå during the year 2002. In order to increase the rate of participation, attempts were made to make the taking of samples as little embarrassing, as anonymous, and as attractive as possible. Everyone received an envelope at home including an information sheet, a questionnaire, and a personally coded plastic capsule. Participation was voluntary, and only one researcher had access to the names behind the codes. Those men who wished to be tested submitted a urine sample in the coded capsule and sent it in to the laboratory. The samples were tested there for chlamydia, and the results were entered into a database. Participants could then see for themselves what their results were by entering their codes on a special Web page at the County Council. If their urine samples proved to contain chlamydia bacteria, they were urged to make contact for free treatment. The Internet page also contained detailed information about chlamydia and other sexually transferred diseases.
Four men of the 396 who sent in samples tested positive, which means a rate of prevalence among the group of 1.1 percent. This is a low figure, which indicates that the study reached men outside the risk group that seek out a test on their own.
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