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Call for more frequent chlamydia testing

9th April 2010

A study of 2,500 students in the UK has found that annual screening of women is not enough to prevent cases of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility.

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Researchers suggest women should be tested for chlamydia every time they have a new sexual partner to cut their chances of developing the pelvic condition.

The findings, backed by the National Chlamydia Screening Programme and published in the British Medical Journal, found treatment of those found to have chlamydia cut the risk of pelvic disease by 80%.

A team from St George's, University of London, concluded that most cases of pelvic inflammatory disease were in women who did not have chlamydia when they were tested a year earlier and may have become infected in the 12 months after screening.

Study leader Professor Pippa Oakeshott said: "The crucial message is that individuals should get tested every time they have a new sexual partner."

However, she stressed chlamydia was not the only cause of pelvic inflammatory disease and that several bacteria may be a cause.

She said testing needed to be more accessible to young people.

For the study sexually active female students between the ages of 16 to 27 from 20 universities and colleges in London were swabbed at the beginning of the study and tested for pelvic inflammatory disease a year later.

Most cases of pelvic inflammatory disease occurred in women who tested negative for chlamydia when they were initially tested.

The Health Protection Agency said the findings reinforced the testing policy of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme.

 

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