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sexually transmitted infections

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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Getting an STI test is often something we don't think of until it's too late, but these new figures should definitely motivate you to pick up the phone and make that appointment.

Positive cases of chlamydia increased by 32% last year, according to new figures from the Dublin Well Woman Centre Annual Report. The centre detected 253 cases of the STI last year, up almost a third on 2013.

Last year's figure is the second highest in 13 years, an alarming statistic considering the amount of sexual health education easily available these days.

As well as chlamydia testing, the Well Woman Clinic offers a full screen for STIs and includes bloods, swabs and any necessary referrals, prescriptions or follow-up.

The figures also noted an increase in women choosing long-action reversible contraception choices, like the Implanon implant, a small flexible plastic rod which is placed under the skin, giving contraceptive protection for 3 years.

While they do not prevent against STIs, many women choose LARCs as a more reliable method of protection from unplanned pregnancy. "LARCs are highly effective, have minimal side effects and are a ‘fit and forget’ solution to contraception," says Dr Shirley McQuade, Medical Director of the Well Woman Centre.

However for guaranteed protection from STIs, especially during sex with a new partner, condoms are still always recommended.

Chlamydia Fact Sheet

What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection which can be contracted by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who is also infected. 

How do I know if I have it?
Unlike other STIs, chlamydia often has no symptoms, though some women do present with abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when peeing. Condoms offer the greatest protection against chlamydia and STIs in general, so it is extremely important to get tested if you have had unprotected sex with a new partner recently or suspect you may be at risk.

What happens if I have chlamydia?
Luckily, chlamydia can be easily detected during an STI test and can be treated with a short course of antibiotics. If left untreated the STI can result in serious, permanent damage to a woman's reproductive system. 

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