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One in five Australian teens do not have a chlamydia test when it is ordered

One in five young people are not submitting a specimen for chlamydia testing after their general practitioner has requested one, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Men, people aged 16 to 19 years, those living in socio-economic disadvantage, and those attending clinics without on-site pathology collection were less likely to be tested for chlamydia after a GP request, the authors – a team from the University of Melbourne, Monash University, the Alfred Hospital and the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW – reported.

“Chlamydia screening is a key preventive care activity for young Australian adults,” the authors wrote. “Guidelines recommend that sexually active men and women aged 15-29 years have an annual chlamydia test, but less than 10% of this age group are screened each year in general practice.

“It is possible that concern about confidentiality and privacy in general practice may have deterred some … “It has been argued that simply raising awareness about the risk of chlamydia may not increase testing [in 16-19 year olds], and that providing reassurance of non-infection may be more productive.

“Lack of knowledge about [the test's] cost may have deterred some patients.

“Chlamydia testing can be stressful for some patients, and any inconvenience, such as having to … attend an off-site pathology centre, will deter patients from following through.”

“Young age and socio-economic disadvantage are key risk factors for chlamydia….clinics must establish systems to ensure that tests ordered by GPs are actually undertaken”.