Screening for chlamydia is both “acceptable and feasible” during cervical screening in general practice, Irish researchers have found.
Last year, cases of chlamydia in Ireland increased by 32%, according to figures from the Dublin Well Woman Centre.
Chlamydia is an easily cured disease but, if left untreated, it can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
It can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy — a pregnancy that occurs outside the womb.
The study, published in the Irish Medical Journal, shows that 236 women (93%) consented to testing and the detection rate for chlamydia was six, or just over 2%.
Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhoea was offered to women aged 25 to 40 during cervical screening in four general practices participating in CervicalCheck — the national cervical screening programme.
Researchers, who included 255 patients in the study, found that almost one in five (18%) already believed that testing for sexually transmitted infections was part of the routine smear test.
More than a third (36%) had been tested for chlamydia or gonorrhoea previously and 13% indicated that they would have requested the test.
No cases of gonorrhoea were detected by the researchers — post-medical graduates attending the Trinity College Dublin HSE GP Training Scheme at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.
The researchers said the study, conducted between July 2014 and January 2015, highlighted “an excellent opportunity” to increase the uptake for screening at the time of the smear test.
There is a national chlamydia screening programme in Britain that actively screens those aged under 25 years, and figures show a prevalence rate of chlamydia of just over 3% among sexually active 16-24-year-olds.
The Irish researchers said the diagnostic rate of 2.4% for chlamydia in their study of 25-40-year-olds supports the notion that screening in an older age rate might be beneficial.
They believe no case of gonorrhoea was detected because the disease affects more men than women, at a ratio of 4 to 1.
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