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Chlamydia screening project launched in Wellington

Chlamydia screening project launched in Wellington

28 September, 2004

FPA believes a Wellington-based pilot project, to look at the best way to screen for Chlamydia, is a positive step in efforts to reduce the Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).

The Chlamydia screening project, that will be carried out in Wellington FPA Clinics, was officially launched last night and FPA Executive Director, Dr Gill Greer, says it will be key to the eventual development of a screening programme to identify the true extent of Chlamydia in New Zealand and treatment provisions.

Chlamydia is already the most common bacterial STI in New Zealand. Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) statistics track a steady increase in the number of confirmed Chlamydia cases from Family Planning, Sexual Health and Student and Youth Clinics. This pattern closely mimics what has been seen with the laboratory surveillance data for the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Auckland regions where rates of the STI have increased from about 350 per 100,000 to about 650 per 100,000 (1998-2003).

Chlamydia frequently has no symptoms. Left untreated, Chlamydia can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pain. Chlamydia also causes eye and lung infections in infants born to women with the STI.

Dr Greer says the pilot study will evaluate the practicality and acceptability of screening routinely for Chlamydia in Family Planning Clinics.

All male and female clients under 25 years of age who are sexually active and come to FPA clinics in Wellington, will be asked to take part in the programme. If they consent, they will be tested for Chlamydia and this will be done by taking a urine sample.

Those clients who have a positive test will be contacted and given treatment and asked to notify their partner – as is the usual practice.

Dr Greer said the project also has a variety of public health education components and an information sheet about Chlamydia, client questionnaires covering the risk factors as well as posters will be developed.

“Understanding the extent of the infection and subsequent treatment programmes is part of reducing Chlamydia. Encouraging safer sex practices is also key to reducing Chlamydia and all STIs including HIV/AIDS,” Dr Greer said.

The Chlamydia Screening Project is funded by FPA, the Ministry of Health, Wellington Medical Research Foundation and Roche Diagnostics.

ENDS


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