Plan to tackle Chlamydia

HEALTH chiefs in Suffolk plan to set up a new screening programme to tackle to growing problem of Chlamydia, it emerged today.Despite estimates that one in ten young people have the sexually transmitted infection (STI), only around 1,000 16 to 24-year-olds in the county are diagnosed each year.

HEALTH chiefs in Suffolk plan to set up a new screening programme to tackle to growing problem of Chlamydia, it emerged today.

Despite estimates that one in ten young people have the sexually transmitted infection (STI), only around 1,000 16 to 24-year-olds in the county are diagnosed each year.

To tackle the problem, East and West Suffolk Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have pledged to bring in a screening programme that will diagnose and treat many more people, which should lead to a dramatic reduction in the infection rate.

Dr Amanda Jones, director of public health for Suffolk east PCTs, said: “At the moment, if someone is worried they can go to their GP or refer themselves to a sexual health clinic where they'll have various tests.

“But because Chlamydia is such a big problem and also a silent infection, with few symptoms, we have started planning a project to diagnose the many people who are infected without knowing.

“The plan is that tests will be available from young people's health clinics, and maybe even pharmacies. And they will be unobtrusive and less complicated.”

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The programme, which should be introduced during 2006, has been given the boost of a £100,000 set-up grant from the Department of Health, and the provisional proposals have been accepted by West Suffolk PCT's board.

There will now be a consultative period during which various health and youth organisations will work together to produce the final plans to end the high infection rates among Suffolk's young people.

Dr Jones hopes that because screening for Chlamydia is “simple, effective and workable” that within two years the programme will have increased the number of diagnoses by 160 per cent.

She added that the reason STIs prevalence rates were on the increase was “because in the 16-24 age range there is quite a lot of changing of sexual partners and binge drinking.”

And she stressed that the best way to prevent Chlamydia, or any STI, was to use a condom.

For more information about sexual health issues visit Suffolk's Young People's Sexual Heath Website, www.ypsh.net.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the commonest Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).

Untreated in women, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause difficulties in getting pregnant. It can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies.

In men it can lead to painful inflammation of the testicles, which may lead to infertility.

Women under 25-years-old who are sexually active have a 10 per cent chance of having the infection. For those under 20 who have had unprotected sex the risk is even higher.

Possible symptoms include irritable eyes, painful urinating, discharge, or painful sex or irregular periods for women. However there are often no symptoms and so the infection goes unnoticed.

Infection rates in the UK are higher than in many other European countries where infection rates have actually been decreasing.

Information source www.ypsh.net/sti/chlam.htm and www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/chlamydia.htm

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