November 14, 2005
British authorities fear that chlamydia may be even more widespread than had been thought following the disclosure that one in nine people under age 25 tested positive for the STD in a national screening program.
Between April 2004 and March 2005, 60,698 young people were screened; 12.5 percent were males. Of females, 10.9 percent were infected, while 11.9 percent of the males were. Among 15-year-olds, 3 percent of boys and 9 percent of girls tested positive.
Because so few men present for testing, authorities worry that many women who are diagnosed and treated risk reinfection. Only one in four primary health care trusts is currently screening young people in England. Government targets call for half of England's 4.25 million 15- to 24-year-olds to be screened within two years. In a new media campaign next year, the government will urge young people to take steps to protect themselves against STDs and unintended pregnancy.
"When we see these figures it sets alarm bells ringing," said Caroline Flint, public-health minister. "There is no point in women coming forward to be screened and getting treatment and then going back to a male partner who will reinfect them."