Practice Safer Sex - Chlamydia Testing Highest in Five Years
The number of people getting tested for chlamydia, the sexually transmitted bacterial infection, has peaked in the past year according to new figures released by the Dublin Well Woman Centre.
The centre’s three clinics have carried out 4,576 chlamydia tests so far this year (Jan – mid Nov 2014), which surpasses full year totals for each of the last five years:
- 4,182 in 2013
- 4,424 in 2012
- 3,934 in 2011
- 3,826 in 2010
- 4,247 in 2009
While prevalence rates for the infection average around 5 per cent across all age groups, there is a spike in positive tests in younger age groups. Well Woman’s figures show that at 10 per cent, the highest rate of positive chlamydia tests occurs in the under 20 age group, indicating that young people are engaging in risky sexual practices or not taking appropriate protective measures.
If diagnosed early, chlamydia can be treated with a course of antibiotics. However, if left undiagnosed, the infection can lead to chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women, and to orchitis (testicular inflammation) in men.
Dr Shirley McQuade, Medical Director of the Dublin Well Woman Centre, welcomes the fact that more women are aware of the need for testing, but cautions that only correct use of a condom will prevent the transmission of the infection.
“It is very important for anyone who had a recent change in partners to get tested for chlamydia. The fact that we are testing more people is an indication that people understand this. While it is a very good thing that young women are open to presenting for testing, we are concerned that the safe sex message clearly isn’t getting through, despite the amount of public health resources devoted to it. It is important to highlight that while over-the-counter Emergency Contraception will help prevent an unplanned pregnancy, it won’t stop the transmission of sexual diseases. Only a condom, used correctly, can do this.”
Alison Begas, CEO of the Dublin Well Woman Centre, also warns Christmas party goers to practice safe sex during the upcoming festive season.
“It is important to be aware that many people can have the infection and experience little or no symptoms, making it all the more important to use protection. We always advise women who may have been exposed to chlamydia to come into our Well Woman clinics to get tested. Testing for chlamydia is painless, and can be done on a urine sample. It only takes a couple of minutes. Alternatively, we recently introduced a self-testing vaginal swab, which means a woman can take her own swab in the clinic, which we then send to the laboratory for analysis.”