The screening programme, run by the Park Centre for Sexual Health at Weymouth Community Hospital, has more than doubled its screen-rate over the last five months, beating both local and national averages.
The campaign, branded ‘Not for Virgins’, was launched across Dorset in May 2008, and was devised specifically to generate awareness of chlamydia among 16-25 year olds.
The Not for Virgins campaign includes kits that allow the patient to take a sample – a swab for females and a urine sample for males – in their own home, and post anonymously to lab, where molecular screening is carried out. Also as part of the Dorset campaign the team took a branded van on a four-day tour of the region, handing out kits and posters.
In 2007, prior the launch of Not for Virgins, 2.4% of Dorset’s 16-24 years olds were being screened for the infection. Now, with test rates at 5%, Dorset is ahead of the rest of the South West, where the average is 4.3%. The average in England is 3.8%.
Barry Alborough, matron at the Park Centre for Sexual Health and initial organiser of the campaign, said: ‘We’ve already made a huge improvement in just half a year by more than doubling the number of young people screened.