Chlamydia control in Europe – a survey of Member States, 2012

Technical report
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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Chlamydia control in Europe - a survey of Member States. Stockholm: ECDC; 2014.

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This report presents the results of the second ECDC survey, carried out in 2012, to describe chlamydia prevention and control activities, changes in activities between 2007 and 2012, and suggests recommendations to improve chlamydia prevention and control in EU/EEA Member States.

Executive summary

The results from two ECDC surveys among the EU/EEA countries indicate that the infrastructure for chlamydia prevention and control activities in these countries has strengthened between 2007 and 2012.
 
A majority of the 28 Member States responding to the 2012 survey have at least one set of guidelines for chlamydia case management in place. Most of these also address case finding through partner notification of persons that have been diagnosed with chlamydia. In addition, most countries also report primary prevention activities for sexually transmitted infections (STI). All but two of the responding countries have a surveillance system for reporting cases of diagnosed chlamydia infection, although in only nine, data collection covers all cases detected annually. Reliable diagnostic tests for chlamydia are available in all countries that participated in the survey; but in five countries these technologies are not widely used. The number of EU/EEA Member States reporting testing for chlamydia of selected groups of asymptomatic persons increased from eight to 14 between 2007 and 2012.
 
Amongst others, the report considers the following recommendations for improving chlamydia prevention and control activities:
 

  • A standard for minimum levels of chlamydia prevention and control across the EU/EEA including:
  • a national strategy or plan for STI prevention and control activities;
  • primary STI prevention activities, e.g. sexual health education in schools, medical campaigns or distribution of condoms;
  • chlamydia case management guidelines that address diagnosis, testing, treatment, partner notification and reporting of cases;
  • surveillance of diagnosed chlamydia cases. 
  • Member States are encouraged to focus on those strategies, plans and activities that help them achieve minimum levels of chlamydia prevention and control before expanding recommendations for opportunistic testing and screening programmes.
  • Existing international chlamydia case management guidelines or comprehensive guidelines from another country are a possible resource for developing guidelines for local use.
  • Clinical audits of practice against agreed standards are a useful method for assessing the implementation of chlamydia case management guidelines. Quality improvement interventions might help to improve adherence to guidelines.

 What is chlamydia
 
Chlamydia trachomatis is an infection of the lower genital tract in women and men that can cause complications resulting from spread to the upper genital tract, transmission of infection during labour, or as a result of immunological mechanisms. It is the most frequently reported sexually transmitted infection in Europe, mostly affecting young heterosexual adults. The rate of diagnoses continues to increase with an overall rate of 175 per 100 000 population in 2011 (346 911 cases).