Objective: To investigate the feasibility of recruiting young men from rural football clubs for screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Methods: Young men aged 16 to 29 were recruited from four football clubs outside of metropolitan areas in Victoria, Australia, and completed a questionnaire about sexual activity, knowledge and history of STIs, and alcohol and drug use, and provided a urine sample for STI testing.
Results: One hundred and eight participants completed the questionnaire and 92 (85.2%) also provided a urine sample. More than 90% of eligible players present at the clubs on the night of the study participated. Eighty-seven participants (80.6%) had ever had penetrative sex, with 33 (39.3%) reporting a new sexual partner in the past three months. Among those who had ever had sex, the prevalence of chlamydia was 3.9% (95% CI 0.8-11.0). While the majority of participants visited their doctor in the past year (78.7%) and were comfortable with the idea of an annual STI screen, few had ever discussed sex or STIs with their doctor or had a previous STI test.
Conclusion: Young men from rural areas may be at considerable risk of STIs and many have not been previously tested. However, most are willing to participate in screening programs and the high participation rate achieved in this pilot project demonstrates the potential for screening to be successfully extended into non-medical settings such as sporting clubs.
Implications: Young people at risk of STIs can be successfully recruited for STI screening from community settings.