August 29th, 2005
The Department of Health’s announced it has awarded the long awaited contract for providing chlamydia screening to Boots the Chemists.
The pilot service will begin in November 2005 in high street branches of Boots across London. It will be evaluated over a two-year period to measure its impact. People who think they may have chlamydia will be able to have a simple urine test to identify if they have the infection and be provided treatment by the pharmacy.
Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK with up to 75% of women affected showing no symptoms. Both men and women can catch chlamydia, and it is most likely to affect those aged 16-30. Left untreated chlamydia can lead to complications that can cause infertility in women (making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant).
The aim of having high street testing is to increase detection of disease and reduce the pressure on existing sexual health clinics that are currently overloaded and underfunded. This new pilot is part of other efforts by the government to reduce STIs, particularly chlamydia.
Whilst we don’t know if this programme will be effective, it is hoped it’ll work by encouraging people into their local pharmacy for testing, increasing the number of sources for testing STIs and decrease the prevalence of chlamydia. Having such tests easily available on the high street may also reduce the stigma around sexual health.
Hopefully those pharmacists taking part will be trained to sympathetically and non-judgementally deliver information, and the views of other sexual health service providers (such as genito urinary clinics and GPs) will also be sought as the pilot progresses.
Other local services in independent pharmacies are also carrying out similar pilots as part of a programme to increase the availability of treatments within community pharmacy settings. Those too are yet to be evaluated.
So watch this space for the results of these pilots. And if you find yourself in London from November and are worried about chlamydia you can pop into certain branches of Boots for a test.
Or if you’re worried about STIs you can get help right now. Visit your nearest GU clinic, consult this pharmacy guide to sexual health, speak to your GP, or call the sexual health advice line in confidence and for free 0800567 123.Tweet