One in five young people are not submitting a specimen for chlamydia testing after their general practitioner has requested one, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Males, 16 to 19 year-olds, people living in socio-economic disadvantage and those attending clinics without on-site pathology collection were less likely to be tested for chlamydia after a GP request, the authors, a team from the University of Melbourne, UNSW’s Kirby Institute, Monash University and the Alfred Hospital, reported.
The Kirby Institute’s 2015 Annual Surveillance Report of HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs found chlamydia remains the most frequently reported notifiable sexually transmissible infection in Australia with 86,136 diagnoses in 2014. The majority (78%) of cases occurred among 15-29 year olds. The report also found almost 700 reported cases of chlamydia in Australian teenagers aged under 15.
“Chlamydia screening is a key preventive care activity for young Australian adults,” the authors of the MJA study wrote.
“Guidelines recommend that sexually active men and women aged 15–29 years have an annual chlamydia test, but less than 10% of this age group are screened each year in general practice.
“It is possible that concern about confidentiality and privacy in general practice may have deterred some from taking a test.
“It has been argued that simply raising awareness about the risk of chlamydia may not increase testing in 16-19 year olds and that providing reassurance of non-infection may be more productive.
“Lack of knowledge about the test’s cost may have deterred some patients. Chlamydia testing can be stressful for some patients, and any inconvenience, such as having to attend an off-site pathology centre, will deter patients from following through.”
The researchers say the study highlights the need for clinics to establish systems which ensure that men and those aged 16-19 years undertake chlamydia tests requested by a GP.