Patterns of General Health Care and STD Services Use Among High-Risk Youth in Denver Participating in Community-Based Urine Chlamydia Screening

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Abstract

Background:

In the United States, youth are at highest risk for STDs, and innovative programs have been called for to increase their access to essential STD-related services. To guide the development of such programs, locally relevant information is needed on current use of general health care and STD services in this population.

Goal:

To study access to and use of general health care and STD services in a purposive sample of high-risk youth in innercity Denver.

Study Design:

An interview-based survey conducted as part of a community program for urine chlamydia screening targeting black and Hispanic youth 13 years to 25 years.

Results:

Of 221 sexually experienced youth in the survey, 72% had accessed general health services in the past year and 39% reported an STD evaluation at any time in the past. Community and school clinics were reported by 50% as a source for general health care and by 62% as a source for STD services. STD clinics were reported by only 14% as a source for STD services. Routine checkups were the most important reasons to seek general health care, yet of those who went for a routine checkup, only 34% reported an STD evaluation. Although few barriers appeared to exist in accessing general health care, anticipated anxiety about procedures and results formed the major barrier to accessing STD services.

Conclusions:

Use of general health services was common in this population of high-risk adolescents; however, the provision of STD services as part of general health care visits appeared to be low. On the basis of these findings, a comprehensive STD prevention strategy may be envisioned, which would include provider interventions to increase the provision of STD prevention services in general health care settings; community interventions to enhance access to general health care and STD services; and community-based screening programs for those not able or willing to seek clinic-based services.

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