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Reilly: Chlamydia screening programme 'would not be cost-effective'

The minister said it would be difficult to achieve te necessary coverage levels to reduce the reservoir of infection in the Irish population.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

HEALTH MINISTER JAMES Reilly has said that establishing a national chlamydia screening programme would not be cost-effective in Ireland.

In response to parliamentary questions from Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher, Reilly said that a pilot study of chlamydia was established in Ireland to investigate the feasibility, acceptability and likely uptake in various settings.

“This study, entitled The Chlamydia Screening in Ireland Pilot Study, concluded that a national opportunistic chlamydia screening programme would not be cost-effective in Ireland,” he said in his response.

It would be difficult to achieve the necessary coverage levels to reduce the reservoir of infection in the Irish population; and recent international evidence has also cast doubt on the effectiveness of population chlamydia screening.

Testing in Ireland

A study in July of this year found that 70 per cent of people in Ireland have never had a sexual health test, though more than 6,000 people in 2012 were infected with Chlamydia, which often presents no symptoms. In England, a national chlamydia screening programme for 15-24 year olds who are sexually active has seen continued success with over 1.7 million chlamydia tests carried out last year and over 136,000 diagnoses made.

The health minister pointed out that testing for the STI is available free of charge to everyone through the public health system.

Reilly also said that a “high level steering group” has been set up by his department to oversee the drafting of a national sexual health strategy to tackle the rising rates of STIs.

He explained that the plan will focus on improving sexual health and well-being and address the surveillance, testing, treatment and prevention of HIV and STIs, crisis pregnancy, and sexual health education and promotion.

Read: Most people in Ireland have never had a sexual health test>

Read: “Dramatic” increase in STIs in Dublin in just 12 months>

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