Australia: Project to Help Curb Chlamydia
November 5, 2002
On Nov. 1, a multi-pronged approach was launched to raise awareness of chlamydia in the Australian Capital Territory. The STD was detected in 298 people in 2001; already this year, 410 cases have been reported. But because 50 percent of infected males and 80 percent of infected females are likely to be undiagnosed, it is possible that up to 1,600 people are infected annually in the ACT.
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and Professor Frank Bowden, the director of the Canberra Sexual Health Center, launched the campaign with the slogan, "life, love, laughter -- they're all infectious; so is chlamydia." Stanhope said growing complacency with the safe sex messages means that chlamydia is "rapidly becoming a public health menace."
Chlamydia can be detected with a simple test and cleared up with antibiotics; left untreated, however, it can cause infertility in men and women. "It's one of the ironies of this disease, that many young women who have unprotected sex worry most about an unwanted pregnancy but in reality they may unknowingly be risking their chances of ever becoming pregnant," Stanhope said.
The campaign includes advertisements, posters, information booklets, postcards, a new Web site and school programs. Another aspect is the ACT Chlamydia Epidemiology and Social Determinants Study, which Bowden said will bring together clinicians, researchers, public health workers and community groups. More than 20 local general practitioners have already signed up for a study of the effectiveness of chlamydia testing when women have a Pap smear.
"We know who is being infected in general terms; we know that we have an increasing problem; we know that contact tracing is of value in finding people with the disease; we know how to diagnose it simply and treat it well; and we must implement those things," Bowden said. "But to do that in the most cost-effective way to make sure that we have the greatest benefit for the community, we do need to undertake research projects that carefully look at our approach."
The campaign's Web site is www.health.act.gov.au/chlamydia.
11.02.02; Danielle Cronin
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.