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GPs failing to test young for chlamydia

GPs are missing cases of chlamydia by failing to test teenagers, researchers warn.

Their study found testing rates were almost twice as high in 20- to 24-year-olds as in 16- to 19-year-olds, although the likelihood of a test being positive was much higher in the younger group.

Researchers used the general practice research database to study testing, diagnosis, treatment and referral patterns in primary care between 1990 and 2004.

Their study, published online by Sexually Transmitted Infections, found that in 2004 the rate of testing was 5,500 per 100,000 patient-years for 20- to 24-year-olds and 3,000 per 100,000 patient-years for 16- to 19-year-olds.

But the rate of diagnosis for both was about the same at 500 cases per 100,000 patient-years.Study leader Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the sexually transmitted disease section at the HPA's Public Health Laboratory Service, said: 'The rise in chlamydia diagnoses in general practice was almost exclusively accounted for by diagnoses among women aged 16 to 24.

But although positivity among women was far higher in teenagers, they were less frequently tested than women aged 25 and 34.

'Testing teenage women may be more difficult as they are more likely to refuse testing or less likely to consult their GP.'

The National Chlamydia Screening Programme currently recommends screening in women under 25.

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