One in 12 people who test for chlamydia have the infection which, while there are often no noticeable signs, can cause a range of health issues, including those affecting fertility in men and women if left untreated.
The East Sussex Public Health campaign – ‘The Hardest Thing About the Chlamydia Test? How To Spell it.’ – is being promoted through social media and via a poster campaign.
The campaign aims to raise awareness that, while hard to spot, chlamydia is easy to treat with a single dose of antibiotics available free of charge.
Chlamydia is detected via a simple urine test, with testing kits available from school and college nurses, youth centres, GP surgeries, some pharmacies, sexual health clinics – or by ordering online at freetest.me and returning the sample by mail.
Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director of public health, said: “Men are much less likely to access chlamydia testing than women, with just 25 per cent of tests in East Sussex taken by men.
“We worked with groups of young men who hadn’t taken part in the testing programme to develop campaign ideas and material.
“Knowledge about chlamydia among young men varied with some indicting they were surprised chlamydia could affect them as they thought it was mainly an issue for women.
“The young men told us they would be more likely to test if they knew about the online testing option.
“We hope the campaign will highlight how easy it is for people to get themselves tested and avoid potential health and fertility issues for them and their sexual partners further down the line.”
It’s recommended that young men follow the advice for all young people that everyone aged 15-24 who is sexually active takes a chlamydia test once a year or whenever they change sexual partner.
People are also recommended to reduce their chance of infection by using condoms – which also protect against the full range of sexually transmitted infections including HIV, as well as preventing unintended pregnancy.
In particular young men and all who work with them are strongly encouraged to pass on the message that chlamydia affects men as well as women. By going online to freetest.me young men can access quick, easy and free testing that can easily prevent problems in the future.
Test kits can be ordered online and are mailed out in plain packaging, with the sample returned via Freepost and results available online or via text message.
More details about the service, along with information on local chlamydia testing and other sexual health and contraception services, is available online at www.eastsussexsexualhealth.co.uk