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sexually transmitted diseases

A clinical trial testing the first ever vaccine to treat chlamydia has passed the initial round of testing, according to The Journal.

Scientists have now moved closer to a superior treatment for the STI after patients reacted well to a newly developed vaccine.

The Lancet journal have published a study which found that the first trial of the vaccine discovered it was safe and provoked the hoped-for immune system response.

Over 131 million people become infected by chlamydia annually, and the disease is undeniably a global issue. The highest number of new cases are discovered in teenagers and young adults.

Chlamydia is known as the 'silent' STI, as it usually fails to produce symptoms. Scientists are hopeful that a vaccine is the best way to fight the disease, which is reaching epidemic proportions.

National treatment programmes have predominantly failed to curb high rates, including testing and antibiotics. Those infected potentially develop partial or temporary immunity to the STI.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Researchers at Imperial College London and the Statens Serum Institiut, Copenhagen, were successful in their initial vaccine test.

The trial included 35 women, and two formulations of the vaccine were trialed. Scientists advice focusing on just one formulation going forward.

“A global unmet medical need exists for a vaccine against genital chlamydia,” said Prof Peter Andersen of the Statens Serum Institut, who called the extent of the disease an “epidemic”. 

One-in-six women experience inflammation of the pelvis due to chlamydia, which can lead to chronic pain, infertility or ectopic pregnancy as well as increasing susceptibility to other STIs.

“Although many more years of research are needed before this vaccine is marketed, we are planning the next stage of research,” said Helene B Juel of the Statens Serum Institut. 

Almost 8,000 cases of chlamydia were reported between 2017 and 2018 nationwide. Latest figures show that there was a 7 percent increase in sexually transmitted infections during those years.

Men made up a higher number of cases of STIs overall but for chlamydia, men and women were equally likely to become infected. 

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Worrying new figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre have revealed rising rates of young people being diagnosed as HIV positive in Ireland.

An expert described how sixteen people were diagnosed last week with the illness, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is at an "alarming" rate.

The age group of 20-year-olds until the age of 29 are the age group at high risk of getting an infection.

Concern’s team leader for health and HIV Breda Gahan said:

“I’m thinking of those 16 people who got that big blow of news last week and how it will affect them in terms of travelling, future job prospects, stigma and treatment.

“I would say unfortunately the stigma has increased both in Ireland and globally. On top of that, who are you going to tell? Are you going to tell your partner or your ex partners or family? No one wants to carry the burden alone," Breda continued.

“I don’t want to frighten people or say if you have sex you’re going to get HIV that’s not the case. But people don’t realise a lot of the cases of HIV are home grown.”

Even though there is access to free treatment for AIDS in Ireland, Gahan feels that the Government need to do more to raise awareness about the disease.

“HIV prevention is failing, it just hasn’t been invested in despite the increasing number of infections. The Government should get those who have the skills to travel to primary schools to work with those who are age appropriate."

Gahan added;

“Education is the social vaccine. Girls and boys need to understand how to protect themselves from life-threatening infections. There is a serious lack of accurate information, there’s a lot of myths and misconceptions.

“We also need to make services more adolescent and user friendly. No one wants to go to an STI clinic.”

Recent figures from the HPSC report show that 239 cases of HIV have been reported so far this year.  4,193 people have contracted chlamydia, 1,341 have gonorrhoea, and 793 have herpes.

In comparison to last year, Ireland has seen an increase of almost 1,200 infections.

Breda Gahan explained the reason for the apparent lack of concern among youth:

“There’s an increase in STIs among young people because of complacency and people aren’t dying so there’s less fear. Young people don’t really care if they get an STI because it’s treatable.”

The expert says that we need to start educating children in primary school aged 10 to 12; 

“As a nurse, I would go as far to say that it’s too late to educate kids at secondary school level. Hormones are hopping at that age.

“It’s alarming and concerning to see the increase of numbers. No sex can be totally safe – there’s always some risk, for example a condom breaking. But there needs to be education about safer sex.”

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