NHS to screen for chlamydia in next 12 to 18 months

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A CHLAMYDIA screening programme could be introduced in the next 12 to 18 months, the Health Minister has said.

In Tynwald this week, Peter Karran (LibVan, Onchan) asked David Anderson how many admissions there had been to the Department of Genito-urinary Medicine each year since 2007 and how many patients were treated for chlamydia.

He asked for an update on the screening service that had been mooted in 2008 and for details of the Department of Health’s plans for the issue.

Mr Anderson said the figures were as follows:

l 2007 – 1,884 new referrals, 1,105 follow-up referrals, making a total of 2,989 patients. Of those, there were 219 confirmed chlamydia cases.

l 2008 – 2,093 new referrals, 1,087 follow-up referrals, making a total of 3,180 patients. Of those, there were 206 confirmed chlamydia cases.

l 2009 – 2,013 new referrals, 1,156 follow-up referrals, making a total of 3,169 patients. Of those, there were 182 confirmed chlamydia cases.

l 2010 – 1,998 new referrals, 1,075 follow-up referrals, making a total of 3,073 patients. Of those, there were 137 confirmed chlamydia cases.

Although this shows a steady year-on-year fall in the number of cases, Mr Anderson said his department, through the office of the director of public health, would once again be submitting a business case for a screening programme. If successful – similar cases have been made unsuccessfully over the last three years – it is hoped chlamydia screening will be introduced within the next 12 to 18 months.

‘The department has recently reviewed and ratified the Sexual Health Strategy and recognised it as a priority within its Strategy for the Future of Health Services in the Isle of Man 2011,’ said Mr Anderson.

‘The aim of the Sexual Health Strategy is to develop an integrated sexual health service and increase the community- based primary care services to ensure that access to services is improved and we continue to make good progress in reducing infection rates. Key to the strategy’s implementation is the introduction of chlamydia screening.’

He added: ‘In recent months, the department has identified key priorities for service development and improvement in the coming year. Chlamydia screening has been identified as one of these priorities.’

Chlamydia, which is symptomless, is a sexually-transmitted infection which affects both sexes, although young women are more at risk. Screening in the UK has recently shown that in some parts of Britain, 10 to 20 per cent of young adults have it. It has recently been estimated that 40 per cent of women who have untreated chlamydia may develop pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave the internal genital organs permanently damaged. This can lead to sterility.

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