Job to cut soaring Suffolk cases of STI

MEDICAL bosses are hunting for a new chief to spearhead the fight against soaring cases of a sexually transmitted infection they fear now strikes down at least one in 10 young people in Suffolk.

MEDICAL bosses are hunting for a new chief to spearhead the fight against soaring cases of a sexually transmitted infection they fear now strikes down at least one in 10 young people in Suffolk.

Suffolk West Primary Care Trust (PCT) is recruiting for a Chlamydia co-ordinator for the area to tackle the number of infections in sexually active young adults aged 16 to 25.

With an estimated 5,000 cases across the county in the age group, the co-ordinator will manage a network of Suffolk centres that could be testing more than 16,000 young people annually for Chlamydia by December 2008.

Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammation and even infertility in women if left untreated by the simple course of antibiotics required.


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A major problem in tackling the condition is its initial lack of symptoms, with many people not realising they have it, prompting experts to label it the “silent sexually transmitted infection (STI)”.

Recent figures show around 600 cases a year at a single sexual health clinic in Ipswich, and infections of all types are on the increase with 150 cases of herpes and 400 cases of genital warts at the same centre. Nearly three quarters of all patients at these clinics are aged 16 to 25.

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Dr Amanda Jones, director of public health at Suffolk Coastal PCT, is leading the implementation of the Chlamydia screening program across east and west Suffolk.

She said: “The co-ordinator role is a clinical post with managerial responsibility. At the very early stages testing will be offered at community reproductive health service centres and hopefully rolled out to non-NHS sites such as pharmacies in the long term.

“In the majority of cases, because there are no symptoms, people are spreading the infection without realising it.”

Dr Jones stressed the importance of prevention as well cure: “We have to encourage condom use, it's incredibly important and protects hugely against all STIs.”

A former Chlamydia sufferer - who whished to remain anonymous - described his shock at discovering he was infected.

“I had no idea until my girlfriend woke up in the night and was in real pain when she went to the toilet. I don't even know how long I could have had it.

“I would urge anyone - even if they're in a stable relationship - to go and get tested. Now it can be done with a urine sample it's painless and the peace of mind is priceless.”

The government has set a national target for 50% of all 16 to 25 year olds to be tested for Chlamydia in England by 2007.

More than 60,000 young people were screened nationwide last year as part of the national Chlamydia screening program with 11% testing positive. In 2002 over 82,000 people tested positive at Genito-Urinary Medicine clinics in Britain, before the screening program began.

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