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Chlamydia screening falling way short

By Lilian Anekwe

The number of people being tested as part of the national chlamydia screening programme is falling far short of what is required to make the programme a success, a new analysis shows.

The number of people being tested as part of the national chlamydia screening programme is falling far short of what is required to make the programme a success, a new analysis shows.

The report by Health Protection Agency researchers found that in 2007/8 only 9% of people aged 15-24 were screened in non-GUM settings – hugely lower than the minimum of 35% required to control chlamydia in this age group.

The survey of the Chlamydia Testing Activity Laboratory, due to be presented at the HPA annual conference in Warwick later this month, estimated the total number of testing in under-25s in England between April 2007 and April 2008.

Nearly a million chlamydia screens were performed over this period, but only 30.3% were taken as part of the national programme.

GPs are likely to face increasing pressure from PCTs to participate in chlamydia screening and boost the programme's uptake.

In June Alan Hall, DH director of performance, wrote to PCTs demanding that NHS managers step up efforts to raise uptake rates, as this was ‘essential' to the success of the programme.

The researchers urged an increase in primary care screening to help the programme meet its target.

Johann Riha, information management lead for the NCSP and author of the study, concluded: ‘This survey suggests that in 2007/8 as much as 15% of the total population of young people aged 15-24 years in England may have been tested for chlamydia of which 9% was in non GUM settings.

‘Screening outside of the GUM community needs to increase to 35% to achieve levels that will control chlamydia.'

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