In the latest issue of the Sexually Transmitted Infections, Phillip Hay and colleagues in the UK report on a prospective study of female students attending 11 universities and 9 further education colleges in London.
At the start, the students were asked to fill a questionnaire and provide a self taken vaginal sample for infection screening. After 12 months, they were assessed for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a condition that can lead to infertility and other complications.
PID was found in 1.6% of the particpants. Unsurprisingly the strongest predictor of PID was the presence of Chlamydia trachomatis at the first visit (relative risk (RR) 5.7).
However, adjusting for this, the authors reported that significant predictors of PID were ≥2 sexual partners (RR 4.0) or a new sexual partner during follow-up (RR 2.8), and age <20 years (RR 3.3). Somewhat surprisingly recruitment from a further education college rather than a university also increased the relative risk of PID 2.6 fold, perhaps reflecting different health protection behaviors (eg condom use) between the two groups.
The study concluded that in addition to known risk factors such as multiple or new partners in the last 12 months and younger age, attending a further education college rather than a university were risk factors for PID.
They recommended that sexual health education and screening programs could be targeted at these high-risk groups.