One in 20 have chlamydia

sad woman looking despondent

One in twenty young Aussies has chlamydia, and most of them don’t know it, new figures show.

The latest annual reports about sexually transmitted diseases in Australia show that at the end of 2015, there were approximately 260,000 new cases of chlamydia in 15-29 year olds, which means around one in twenty young Aussies had chlamydia last year.

While there has been an encouraging decline in notifications rates in 15-19 year olds, nearly three quarters of these new infections in 15-29 year olds are undiagnosed and therefore untreated, according to the report, from UNSW’s Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity in Society.

Associate Professor Rebecca Guy, Program Head with the Surveillance Evaluation and Research Program at The Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity in Society, UNSW, says that chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI in Australia.

There has been a steady increase in notifications over the last 10 years, she says.

Encouraging testing is an important strategy in helping prevent the spread of the disease.

“Most people – over 80% of them – have no symptoms,” A/Prof Guy says.

Most young people in Australia are tested and diagnosed with chlamydia in general practice: between 2008 and 2015 there was a twofold increase in chlamydia testing in 15 to 29 year olds attending general practice. More women than men get tested.

“This is a considerable increase in testing,” A/Prof Guy says. “That being said, even with an increase in testing, it’s not reaching all young people who have the infection.”

Only about a quarter of the one in 20 young people who had a chlamydia infection last year were tested and diagnosed.

A/Prof Guy says that gonorrhoea notifications have also increased in males and females, primarily due to an increase in testing.

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