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New Ways to Tackle Chlamydia

Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections are rising in several countries of the world

This is a fact that has been verified by the public health system in many different countries. Whatever the actual causes are -the reasons are always many and intertwined- public bodies and non governmental organizations have been trying to find new ways to fight the spread of these conditions in the population. 

From the United States to Australia, several studies have confirmed the same reality that is taking place right now in the world: chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections are rising, especially amongst the young people. The age group of men and women under 25 years old is being targeted by many public health campaigns which aim to decrease the number of chlamydia and other STIs cases. 

The diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections play a big role in tackling the spreading of this disease. This is especially true in the case of chlamydia, because this infection in particular usually doesn't have symptoms, so it is virtually impossible to know that you are infected unless you undergo a chlamydia test. If you don't know that you have chlamydia, you will more probably transmit it to your sexual partners, thus helping the spread of the disease.

Why are there so many people who don't get tested for chlamydia even if they are at risk of catching the disease?

The main reasons why chlamydia tests are far from being as popular as they should are lack of knowledge and prejudices. Little people know about the actual tests that are taken to screen for chlamydia. They believe that these tests could be painful or uncomfortable. This is far from being true. The chlamydia test consists in an urine sample. In the case of women, they can choose bewteen an urine sample and a vaginal swab that they can take themselves. 

The other main reason is that they don't like the idea of going to a public health center to be tested for chlamydia. Some of the reported causes of this attitude are embarrassment -because of the socially negative image that is associated with the possibility of having caught a sexually transmitted infection-, transportation difficulties and long waits. 

What can public programmes and services do to tackle chlamydia?

In many countries around the world, public bodies have ran successful campaigns against sexually transmitted diseases. Some of these were not just meant to provide access to diagnosis and treatment, but also to educate and encourage people to take measures to protect their own sexual health and the one of their partners.

In the United Kingdom, free chlamydia tests are offered along with sexual education in public hospitals. Public Health England has recently ran a survey about the effects of tests and information in the reported sexual behaviour of their patients. These results have been displayed in a Pharmaceutical Journal article and show how these actions have had a possitive impact in men and women, who stated that they were more likely to get another test in the future.

In the United States, an LA public health campaign implemented a home chlamydia testing service for women. This campaign aimed to encourage women into getting chlamydia tests in the comfort of their own homes, without the need of going to a hospital and exposing themselves.

What can the private sector do to tackle chlamydia?

In Australia, New South Wales has been identified as the region with most people infected with chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases. A new service has been launched by Independent Practitioners Network in order to attack the spread of these infections. In a way that is very similar to the Los Angeles campaign, this service in NSW consists in a discrete diagnosis procedure via mail. You receive in your home the sample kit, you take the sample and mail it back, and the results are communicated to you via SMS within two business days.

There are many companies in the United Kingdom that allow you to get a chlamydia test online with absolute secret, and also provide other services such as sending the proper antibiotics in the case that you need them, and annonymous notification to your sexual partners that they need a screening as well. 

The advantage of these private services is that they are more practical and much faster than the public health service. You don't have to go all the way to a hospital and wait forever until you see a doctor. Also, you will get the results in your own home and in a very short while. This encourages many people into getting a chlamydia test, and if you even suspect that you could have this infection, or if you mantain a sexual life that involves more than one partner and/or a new partner, you should get the test as well.

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