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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Establishing a linked sentinel surveillance system for blood-borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections: methods, system attributes and early findings

Jane L. Goller A G , Rebecca J. Guy B , Judy Gold A , Megan S. C. Lim A , Carol El-Hayek A , Mark A. Stoove A , Isabel Bergeri A , Christopher K. Fairley C D , David E. Leslie E , Phillip Clift F , Bethany White B and Margaret E. Hellard A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Burnet Institute, GPO Box 2284, Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia.

B National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, 45 Beach Street, Coogee, NSW 2031, Australia.

C Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, 580 Swanston Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.

D School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, 207 Bouverie Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3010, Australia.

E Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, 10 Wreckyn Street, North Melbourne, Vic. 3051, Australia.

F Victorian Government, Department of Health, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

G Corresponding author. Email: jane@burnet.edu.au

Sexual Health 7(4) 425-433 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH09116
Submitted: 29 October 2009  Accepted: 14 April 2010   Published: 10 November 2010

Abstract

Objective: To describe the attributes and key findings from implementation of a new blood-borne virus (BBV) and sexually transmissible infection (STI) sentinel surveillance system based on routine testing at clinical sites in Victoria, Australia. Methods: The Victorian Primary Care Network for Sentinel Surveillance (VPCNSS) on BBV and STI was established in 2006 at 17 sites. Target populations included men who have sex with men (MSM), young people and injecting drug users (IDU). Sites collected demographic and risk behaviour information electronically or using paper surveys from patients undergoing routine HIV or STI (syphilis, chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis)) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing. These data were linked with laboratory results. Results: Between April 2006 and June 2008, data were received for 67 466 tests and 52 042 questionnaires. In clinics providing electronic data, >90% of individuals tested for HIV, syphilis and chlamydia had risk behaviour information collected. In other clinics, survey response rates were >85% (HIV), 43.5% (syphilis), 42.7–66.5% (chlamydia) and <20% (HCV). Data completeness was >85% for most core variables. Over time, HIV, syphilis and chlamydia testing increased in MSM, and chlamydia testing declined in females (P = 0.05). The proportion of positive tests among MSM was 1.9% for HIV and 2.1% for syphilis. Among 16–24-year-olds, the proportion positive for chlamydia was 10.7% in males and 6.9% in females. Among IDU, 19.4% of HCV tests were antibody positive. Conclusions: The VPCNSS has collected a large, rich dataset through which testing, risk behaviours and the proportion positive can be monitored in high-risk groups, offering a more comprehensive BBV and STI surveillance system for Victoria. Building system sustainability requires an ongoing focus.

Additional keywords: Australia, chlamydia, hepatitis C, HIV, injecting drug user, men who have sex with men, syphilis.


Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge patients attending sentinel sites, and the clinicians, scientists and other staff at participating sentinel clinics and laboratories for their contribution to the Victorian Primary Care Network for Sentinel Surveillance on BBV and STI.


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