Background and Objectives:: Barriers to seeking care for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have not been assessed for low‐income women. We sought to determine barriers to seeking care for STDs among women receiving Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits in 21 Missouri counties.
Goal of This Study:: Provide information for promoting care‐seeking behavior among low‐income women suspecting STD infection.
Study Design:: A survey of 2,256 women was conducted; 491 reported a history of at least one STD. These women indicated possible barriers to seeing a doctor about a suspected STD and preference for type of clinic providing STD services.
Results:: More than one fifth (21.3%) of those reporting an STD also reported at least one barrier to seeing a doctor about suspected STD or human immunodeficiency virus infection. Among those reporting barriers, the most common barrier was “I only have sex with my steady” (36.2%) followed by being asymptomatic (33.3%), embarrassment (22.8%), and cost (25.7%). Most (63.8%) preferred seeing their own doctor, with others reporting preference for community health centers (14.8%), family planning clinics (16.8%), and STD clinics (4.6%).
Conclusions:: Low‐income women experience multiple barriers to seeking care including perceptions about a protective value of monogamy. Also, STD services in locations providing other health services for women were preferred.