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Chlamydia message ‘being lost due to taboo around sex’

16 October 2009

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Fear of causing too many red faces in doctors’ surgeries could be stopping the message from getting through to young people about the importance of chlamydia screening and treatment, a study shows.

Not enough GPs are promoting tests for the sexually transmitted infection and fail to prominently display posters and leaflets because they fear it will upset the sensibilities of their patients, the BMC Public Health journal reported.

A snapshot study of 25 practices in England also found most staff are not routinely offering tests to the target population of 15 to 24-year-olds.

The researchers said that while it may not quite be a case of ‘no sex please, we’re British’, a taboo still seems to surround talking about sex and the health issues involved. They added education is needed to change staff attitudes towards sexual health.

Chlamydia is the most common sexual infection, with 120,000 new cases diagnosed last year. Young people account for more than 60% of them.

It is known as the “silent infection”, as it often shows no symptoms, but if left untreated can cause infertility.

Study leader Dr Cliodna McNulty said: “It’s not just about making the promotional material available, it’s about making sure they’re used as well as educating GPs and other staff about how to follow up their use.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009