Mapping Sexual Behaviour and Lab-Proven, Reported Cases of Chlamydia Among Adolescents in British Columbia

(January—April 2011; Youth Sexual Health Team Seed Grant)

Principal Investigator(s): Elizabeth Saewyc
Co-Investigator(s): Ashley Roberts; Curren Warf; Simon Dobson; Mark Gilbert

Chlamydia trachomatis infection is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Canada. Reported rates of chlamydia have been increasing in Canada. However, it is unclear whether this represents an increased prevalence of chlamydia disease in the general population, as this data does not exist.

The McCreary Centre Society’s BC Adolescent Health Survey (BC AHS) collects data from youth in high school regarding adolescent behaviours, including sexual behaviours, every five years. This study coupled the behavioral information from the BC AHS with results of provincial, lab-proven cases of chlamydia from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) in order to answer the following questions:

  • Do sexual behaviours reported by adolescents aged 14-18 years correlate with lab-proven cases of chlamydia infections based on Health Service Delivery Areas (HSDAs) (i.e. are higher levels of sexual risk behaviors in particular geographic regions associated with increased rates of chlamydia in that region?) And are these potential links between these two types of data stronger before or after the change in testing methods and patterns of testing that occurred between the earlier and later surveys?
  • Can chlamydia ‘hotspots’ be identified from this provincial data, and specific behaviours linked to those hotspots?
  • Are there differences in sexual behaviours and reported rates of chlamydia between urban and rural geographic areas in British Columbia?
  • Can trends in chlamydia infection and sexual behaviours in adolescents in BC be identified over time (between 1998-2008)?

To answer these questions, sexual behaviour data from the BC AHS from various years of the McCreary Centre Society were “mapped” to data from the BCCDC regarding positive chlamydia tests across the province. Data was analyzed by Health Service Delivery Areas (HSDA), separately by gender, from 1998, 2003, and 2008 for both the BC AHS and the BCCDC positive chlamydia tests among youth aged 14-18 years. This information helps to guide more targeted sexual health education campaigns for adolescents, to contribute evidence about the link between test results and behaviour, and to guide future research endeavors aimed at obtaining real-time prevalence for chlamydia in B.C.

Total: $3,000