Friday, October 01, 2004

One in Eight U.K. Teen Girls Has Chlamydia

One in eight teenage girls has chlamydia, tests show
By Jeremy Laurance Health Editor
30 September 2004

One in eight teenage girls is infected with chlamydia, the sexually transmitted disease that can cause infertility, according to the first results from the national screening programme.
The rate of infection among 16- to 19-year-old women is more than 40 per cent higher than in those aged 20 to 24, indicating that girls starting sex are at highest risk. Among men, rates are highest in the 20 to 24 age group with one in five infected. The findings from the first year of the national chlamydia screening programme, which was launched in April last year, confirm that the infection is Britain's commonest sexually transmitted disease. Chlamydia causes no symptoms in half of men and 70 per cent of women. But it can have serious consequences, causing pelvic inflammatory disease in up to 30 per cent of women. One in five women is left infertile.
Figures for 2003 show more than 58,000 cases of chlamydia were diagnosed in 16- to 24-year- olds in sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But the Health Protection Agency (HPA) estimates the true number to be 300,000. The infection can be cured by a single dose of antibiotics.
The HPA warned in July that Britain was facing an epidemic of STDs, with more than 700,000 cases diagnosed last year, up 57 per cent since 1995. Prompt treatment is critical to curb the spread of STDs, but genito-urinary medicine clinics are overwhelmed and patients face "unacceptably long waits", Sir Liam Donaldson, the Government's chief medical officer, admitted. The British Medical Association said the service was worse than 90 years ago.
The Family Planning Agency said teenage girls were more likely to have sex with men in their twenties. A spokeswoman said: "They do not have the same negotiating skills over asking their partner to wear a condom and they are more vulnerable. Women in their twenties are more forceful."
The screening programme is to be offered nationwide by 2008. It aims to provide 50 per cent coverage of all sexually active women aged 16 to 24.