Offer chlamydia checks to all under-25s, GPs told

GPs should offer chlamydia screening to any sexually active patient less than 25 years old, 'regardless of their reason for attending general practice', Public Health England (PHE) has recommended.

Urine sample (Photo: iStock)

The call is outlined in PHE guidance that suggests adding chlamydia screening to the QOF to boost numbers of young people getting checked and help catch the disease earlier.

General practice has a ‘crucial role’ to play in promoting sexual health which ‘is not being fully realised’, the report says.

Most young people have easy access to their practice and the majority visit their GP at least annually, making general practice an ideal base for opportunistic screening, it argues.

Some services provided by GPs should ‘act as a trigger’ for offering a chlamydia test, such as fitting LARCs, providing emergency contraception and ‘general adolescent/youth issues’.

But GPs should also take advantage of appointments such as routine asthma checks, the report advised.

Sexual health training

The guidance encouraged GPs to undergo training to help them broach the topic of sexual health with their patients.

It said: ‘Many general practice staff have not had specific sexual health training and are often reluctant to raise or discuss issues due to a fear of causing offence, the sensitivity of the subject matter and constraints around time and expertise.

‘Training, including e-learning courses, can support GPs and practice nurses in enhancing their skills and confidence in sexual health issues.’

In 2012, 6% of chlamydia tests conducted in general practice resulted in a positive diagnosis.

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