Kits to tackle silent' disease

PUBLISHED: 16:42 10 August 2007 | UPDATED: 22:58 28 May 2010

YOUNGSTERS in Fenland schools are being encouraged to use self-tester kits to see if they are infected with the most common sexually transmitted infection. Chlamydia is known as the silent infection because people often do not know they have it because th

YOUNGSTERS in Fenland schools are being encouraged to use self-tester kits to see if they are infected with the most common sexually transmitted infection.

Chlamydia is known as the silent infection because people often do not know they have it because they experience no symptoms.

In Fenland, where one in 10 sexually active under 25-year-olds is unknowingly infected, a recently-introduced initiative which takes screening into educational and social settings is proving a success.

Katrina Brewer, chlamydia screening co-ordinator, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Public Health Network, said: "The new NHS chlamydia screening programme is in full swing across Cambridgeshire providing easy local access to free confidential tests, treatment and advice.

"If caught early, chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. If not treated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body and causes serious health problems, including infertility, ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages."

During recent months, the kits have been made available in several venues, including Neale-Wade and Cromwell Community Colleges, in March, and Chatteris, the College of West Anglia, in Wisbech, Friday Bridge Agricultural Camp, and clinics and GP practices.

Ms Brewer said: "The beauty of our programme is that young people can do these tests themselves and because there is no intimate examination there is less embarrassment.

"The tests are very easy to do and the results are available from the NHS in around two weeks. This can be by either text, e-mail, letter or phone call.

"If the result is positive, the individual will be given free antibiotics to take and will be advised not to have sex with their partner until the infection has cleared, normally seven days, or until their partner has also been treated. Partners should be tested and treated to make sure re-infection does not occur.

"The risk of infertility is increased if an individual becomes infected again and again.

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