Annual chlamydia testing ‘inadequate’
Women should be tested for chlamydia whenever they have a new sexual partner, say UK researchers who found that single screening is unlikely to prevent women developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in the following year.
They say their findings support the national chlamydia screening programme's recommendations that, in addition to annual screening, individuals should also be tested if they change sexual partners.
The researchers, led by Dr Pippa Oakeshott (St George's Hospital, London, UK), studied 2529 sexually active female students aged between 16 and 27 years.
The results, published in the BMJ, showed that seven (9.5%) of 74 control women who tested positive for chlamydia developed PID over 12 months compared with one (1.6%) of 63 women who were screened for chlamydia.
However, most (79%) cases of PID occurred in women who tested negative for chlamydia when initially screened.
Dr Oakeshott, who also practices as a GP, explained to GP News: "Almost half the women reported that they had had two or more partners in the previous year and its very likely they became newly infected during the year."
Dr Oakeshott stressed that screening is worthwhile, as treatment of women who tested positive for chlamydia reduced the risk of PID by 80%.
"The trouble is we're not getting enough of them. Particularly the men are not coming to be tested. If you happen to know that one of your patients has recently changed sexual partner then that's a good time to offer a chlamydia test," she commented.
Dr Oakeshott said most GPs now offer chlamydia testing in their own practices rather than directing patients to sexual health clinics.
"In our practice, with new patient checks in the under 25s where they have to provide a urine sample anyway, we're encouraging them to have that sent off for a chlamydia test. And whenever you're doing any kind of gynecological examination in under 25s then that's a good time to get them checked."
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