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Target for chlamydia testing missed

15th June 2009

The NHS screening programme in England has failed to reach its target for chlamydia tests, despite showing good improvement this year.

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The testing programme was meant to have screened 17% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 in 2008/09, but saw only 15.9% according to statistics.

The total percentage screened improved on the previous year's result of less than 5%.

120,000 new diagnoses of chlamydia are made annually and younger people comprise two thirds of this figure.

The disease is commonly known as the "silent infection" as it is symptomless, but can have serious consequences such as infertility.

Screening was brought in at a number of pilot locations in 2002. It is performed by testing urine at clinics, GP surgeries and through outreach services.

The government spent £70 million to ensure the tests were rolled out across the country by 2007/08.

Only three of the 152 health service trusts reached the target in 2007/08. This year half the trusts reached the target and one million tests were performed in total.

Paul Ward, deputy chief executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, which has assisted with the screening in some locations, said: "The past year has seen more young people screened for chlamydia than ever before, however, more still needs to be done if we're to see the number of new infections decline."

"Trusts must learn from successful schemes by encouraging a joined up approach from GPs, sexual health clinics and outreach programmes."

 

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