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Chlamydia Epidemic Could Have Implications for HIV Spread in Pacific Islands, Study Says

June 15, 2006

The high prevalence of chlamydia on many Pacific islands could facilitate the spread of HIV in the region, according to a study released Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. Sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, increase an individual's risk of contracting HIV, according to the Associated Press. The study -- sponsored by the World Health Organization -- between 2004 and 2005 examined 4,300 people in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The study finds that nearly one in five pregnant women in the region tested positive for chlamydia. In addition, condom use in the region is low, the study finds. Less than 10% of young people reported using condoms consistently in the past year with commercial sex workers, and 12% reported using condoms regularly with casual sex partners, according to the study. Knowledge about HIV prevention also is low. In the Solomon Islands, 39% of young people reported knowing how HIV is transmitted and how to protect themselves from the disease. Although none of the people tested for chlamydia was found to be HIV-positive, "there is no room for complacency," Jimmie Rodgers, director-general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, said in a statement, adding, "HIV is here and here to stay, and the conditions are present for it to spread rapidly." The study calls for increased STI education and prevention campaigns, as well as better surveillance, screening and treatment of chlamydia and other STIs (Associated Press, 6/14).

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