Annual chlamydia testing rates among sexually active young people remain low in Australia, particularly in small rural towns. The Sex and Sport project was set up to test the feasibility of an innovative method of increasing the testing and treatment of 16–25-year-olds in a community setting, using local community sporting clubs in rural areas of the State of Victoria.
Following an initial pilot study, a collaborative network of sporting clubs, laboratories, and healthcare providers was established to deliver the main project.
The 29 clubs agreeing to participate were visited 2 weeks prior to recruitment; the project was explained to the players and a question and answer session was held. Club presidents and respected members of the club (e.g., sports coaches) were targeted to also communicate the project’s benefits to young people with the aim of improving recruitment success.
Recruitment was conducted in the club rooms following a training session—with refreshments or meals provided for all club members after training. All eligible players attending the training night were approached by study researchers and asked if they would like to participate. Participation rates were high: 95.9 % male, 97.6 % female. After providing written informed consent, players completed a brief questionnaire about sexual activity, knowledge and history of STIs, alcohol and drug use, and provided a self-collected, first pass urine specimen. Participants were then provided with a “show bag” with condoms and educational material about STIs and available sexual health services.
Participants with a positive result were telephoned by a sexual health practitioner, informed of their result and offered treatment options. Those with a negative result were informed by text message.
Of those participants later surveyed, 92 % stated they would be happy to undertake an annual sexual health check-up at their local sporting club and receive results by mobile SMS.
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