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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 00:55 GMT
Chlamydia study launched
Lab worker
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection
Doctors are launching a major project to find the best way to combat chlamydia - the world's most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection.

A team from the University of Birmingham will screen about 18,000 men and women aged 16 to 39 for the bug.

Chlamydia infection can cause infertility and serious gynaecological problems if it is not treated.

Latest figures show that the number of cases of genital chlamydia in the UK has soared from 32,371 in 1995 to 56,855 in 1999.

Rates of infection are highest among young women.

Recent research found that four out of five cases of infection are contracted by women under the age of 25.

Chlamydia potentially concerns us all

Dr John Macleod, University of Birmingham
Experts say part of the huge increase is due to complacency among young people.

The Chlamydia Screening Studies project will last two years and involve fellow researchers from the University of Bristol, the Public Health Laboratory Service and local GPs.

Prospective volunteers will be selected at random from 27 general practices in the West Midlands and Bristol areas, sent a study pack and asked to participate.

Important implications

Researcher Dr John Macleod, of the University of Birmingham, said: "We hope that anybody receiving a study pack will take part in this research.

"It could have important implications for their own health. Chlamydia potentially concerns us all and there is an urgent need for us to find out the best way to combat this public health problem."

Chlamydia infection costs the NHS up to 100m a year in treatment costs.

Long-term complications include ectopic pregnancy, infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.

If detected early, it can be treated with antibiotics.

It can be spread rapidly because most suffers show no symptoms, and are not aware that they have been infected.

The study, commissioned by the NHS health technology assessment programme, will help develop the best way to trace and treat sexual contacts of people with chlamydia, as well as develop effective tests, and assess the emotional and economic impact of screening.

A recent study by US scientists recommended that young women should be screened for chlamydia infection every six months.

The government is currently drawing up a new strategy on sexual health.

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06 Feb 01 | Health
Chlamydia test 'every six months'
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