Young Adults' Attitudes, Beliefs, and Feelings about Testing for Curable STDs Outside of Clinic Settings

The development of new technology has now made it possible to screen for certain curable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) outside the clinical setting. Early reports about the possible advantages of these developments show a great deal of variation. This article presents findings from an exploratory study conducted to describe young adults' attitudes, beliefs and feelings that may influence STD testing and care-seeking decisions. The researchers conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with 120 young adults aged 18 to 25. This sample was obtained through the use of stratification based on gender, age and race (black, white, Latino). Study participants answered questions about their perceptions of the impact of an STD infection, curability and ease of treatment. Responses were generally positive toward self-testing kits, but this does not guarantee that at-risk youth will find community or home-based screening programs acceptable. Most respondents reported that having even a curable STD would negatively impact their life, though all indications point to a personal rather than medical impact. Future research could examine young adults' personal health care and sexual behavior, both of which have great potential to impact their attitudes about STDs and screening.