New research designed to stop the spread of the most common sexually-transmitted disease among young Australians is underway thanks to collaboration between the University of Canberra, The Australian National University and ACT Health.
The ‘Chlamydia Screening in Pharmacies' study aims to increase testing for chlamydia among young people through community pharmacies, by offering a $10 cash incentive to both the participant and the pharmacy.
Chlamydia affects one in 14 young people in Canberra and can cause a range of health problems, including infertility. The condition can be treated simply with antibiotics. However, with no symptoms, the condition often goes undetected.
Testing for and treating chlamydia can significantly reduce the rate of infection in the community, the risk of long-term health problems and transmission of the infection to other people.
Associate Professor Rhian Parker from the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute at ANU said it was important to find new ways to detect and treat chlamydia.
"The rate of reported chlamydial infection is rising in the ACT and we urgently need new strategies to detect and treat this infection," Associate Professor Parker said.
"This research will test the efficacy of giving patients an incentive to be screened for chlamydia in ACT community pharmacies."
University of Canberra professor of pharmacy Gabrielle Cooper said pharmacies were the natural place to offer the testing.
"Young people already visit community pharmacies for a range of health services, including buying contraceptives and treatments for sexually-transmitted infections," Professor Cooper said.
"To offer chlamydia testing and treatment would be a valuable additional service, particularly for young people who don't often visit their doctor. The pharmacy staff are trained to support and assist them in this very simple process."
Study participants will be women and men aged between 16 and 30 years who are sexually active and who are willing to provide a urine sample and their mobile phone number.
Six community pharmacies in the ACT (four in the city and two in suburban areas) agreed to participate in and support this study.
Participants who test positive will be confidentially contacted offered treatment.