By: 3 July 2012

Almost a third (30%) of UK young adults are only prepared to be tested for Chlamydia through a totally discreet method, such as remote testing via a postal kit, and only 32% are also happy to visit a sexual health clinic for Chlamydia screening, according to a new report from MindMetre Research. 

The MindMetre research into the long term attitudes of UK young adults aged 18 to 24 years old towards Chlamydia screening communications methods and locations also found that a sixth (17%) of UK young adults indicated they were comfortable with presenting themselves at a mobile testing unit visiting their school or work premises, and only 14% of respondents would now choose to be screened at their local GP surgery. This is an important indication of the increasing awareness among young adults of the different screening locations available.

However, the number of UK young adults who indicated remote testing to be their preferred screening method (30%), contrasts sharply with National Chlamydia Screening Programme’s (NCSP) most recent figures which showed that only 8% of those screened actually used home testing kits. This suggests that many young people are still not aware of the existence of this simple and discreet screening option.

Government public health advertising (60%), local public health advertising (59%) and GPs (58%) were rated as the most influential channels to raise awareness of the importance of screening for Chlamydia among 18 to 24-year-olds. However a raft of less expected channels were also highly rated as being influential, such as social networks and web advertising (both 54%), celebrity endorsements and magazines (both 44%), and even night clubs (40%). This indicates that, as well as the trusted authorities, making use of a range of channels, particularly social networking, could yield access to enormous pool of receptive young adults.

Clare Lewis-Jones MBE, Chief Executive, Infertility Network UK comments:  “This report confirms the role social media has in getting the message about Chlamydia testing across to young people, aged 15 to 24, in a way they can relate to. It is important that they understand how easy it is to get tested quickly and discreetly. It is vital that young people understand the possible long term effects that Chlamydia could have on their fertility – and ultimately affect their ability to have a child in the future.”

“At Infertility Network UK, we welcome any move towards preventative measures for causes of infertility, and support this initiative to improve communication to young adults so they can take advantage of quick and free screening. The emotional and physical impact of infertility is huge and early testing for Chlamydia could prevent many hundreds of couples having to seek fertility treatment every year.”

At present, despite the success of the NCSP, screening rates among 15 to 24-year-olds remain under target. The MindMetre research highlights that in order to achieve proposed testing levels, awareness of Chlamydia, the further health complications it can cause, and the availability of free confidential testing services needs to be raised among the target age group through channels that they are truly receptive to. The report, therefore, aims to serve a number of critical insights that can form the basis of strategic planning for a successful promotional strategy that will maintain the momentum of recent years towards a truly substantial level of regular Chlamydia testing amongst young adults.