England: Schools to Test for Sex Diseases: Pilot Scheme Follows Sharp Rise in Infection Rate
September 11, 2003
As part of a national effort to curb sharply rising chlamydia infection rates, secondary school students in York, England, will be tested for the STD. Testing of teenagers for chlamydia, an infection thought to occur in one in 10 sexually active British women, will be offered in two mixed schools in York in a plan that, if successful, will be encouraged across the country.
Provisionally backed by head teachers but not yet formally approved by governors, the screening follows recommendations by the Commons select committee on health to do more to ensure young people receive sexual information and help.
The York experiment is part of national program to expand chlamydia screenings beyond conventional clinics. The Department of Health in England, in its response to the Commons committee report, "entirely agrees" with the call for testing outside clinics. Colleges, nightclubs, and sports clubs will be invited to become screening sites as ministers prepare to curb STD rates in youth through controversial programs -- even in schools where debate still rages about sex education.
The York schools slated to conduct the screenings already offer an emergency contraception service as well as condoms and advice to people ages 11-18. "Anybody who attends for emergency contraception is at risk of [STD] by definition because they have had unprotected sex," said Ginny Smith, nurse adviser for teenage sexual health at the York Health Service National Health Service trust.
The number of known chlamydia cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland rose by 14 percent last year to 81,680 -- after more than doubling in the five years before that. Most cases of chlamydia, which is easily spread through unprotected sex, go undetected because up to five in 10 men and seven in 10 women with the infection have no symptoms.
09.11.2003; James Meikle
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.