Community pharmacies should only offer opportunistic chlamydia testing to women under 25, and not men, Public Health England has announced.
The National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) will focus testing on women only, because they are at higher risk of long-term complications from the infection.
Previously, the NCSP recommended testing sexually active young men and women proactively, in a bid to boost early diagnosis and treatment of asymptomatic infection.
Now, chlamydia screening in community settings — including community pharmacies — will only be proactively offered to asymptomatic young women.
The new focus is aimed at reducing the consequences of long-term untreated infections on young women’s reproductive health, PHE said.
In women, long-term chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can cause chronic pain and infertility.
The screening programme will now also place greater emphasis on reducing reinfections among young people, through more efficient notification of sexual partners as well as retesting after treatment.
Young men can still access chlamydia tests if they have symptoms or if a sexual partner has tested positive for chlamydia.
This comes following a public consultation in 2019, which sought views on proposals to revise the policy for chlamydia screening in England.
Dr John McSorley, President of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) said: ‘BASHH welcomes the National Chlamydia Screening Programme Expert Review recommendation that future strategy focusses on harm reduction to maximise health outcomes.
‘We recognise the importance of evaluation of all activity and the need to react and respond to that expert analysis of the best available evidence.
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