Call to offer chlamydia screening to all young women

GPs should offer chlamydia screening to patients based on age rather than sexual history to help boost screening uptake, according to Australian research.

Young women were found to be more likely to agree to be screened for the infection if their GP did not discuss sexual history with them.

Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 24 young sexually active women, aged 16 to 24, to determine their attitudes towards chlamydia screening in general practice.

All of the women felt that chlamydia screening should be offered to all young women, aged 16-24, rather than targeted at high-risk women based on sexual history.

The women also reported that they did not want to be asked to provide a sexual history as part of being asked to have a chlamydia test. Many said that they would lie if asked about the number of previous sexual partners.

Lead researcher Dr Natasha Pavlin, from the department of general practice at the University of Melbourne, said: ‘The importance of normalising the offer of chlamydia testing, so that individual women do not fell singled out, cannot be overemphasised.'

But north London GP Dr Richard Ma, a member of the NCSP, warned that a screening strategy based on just age could lead to patients with chlamydia being left untreated.

‘Some patients may come forward and be screened just once between the ages of 16-24,' he said. ‘They are not likely to be screened every year so it is important to take a sexual history to identify those most at-risk.'

BMC Infectious Diseases 2008

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