Regional youth aren't seeing GP about STD symptoms: study

THE vast majority of young people in regional Australia found to have chlamydia did not go to their doctor with symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease, a major study has found.

A study of the prevalence of the often asymptomatic disease among young people in regional areas was published last week in the Medical Journal of Australia.

While it found a higher incidence of chlamydia among young men in rural areas, of most concern was likely the more than 70% of those found to have the disease did not go to the doctor to be checked.

Of the more than 4200 participants in the survey, 197 tested positive for chlamydia, and 73.4% of those testing positive were in those presenting to GPs for "non-sexual health reasons".

"If only symptomatic patients and those reporting contact with a partner who had an STI were tested, these cases would be missed; this emphasises the need to offer testing to all young people," the study reads.

"In conjunction with our high response rate of 70%, 87% of participants in rural and regional towns were attending a local general practice, showing that young adults in these areas are likely to agree to testing at their local clinic if asked."

The study also reported that rates of testing for the disease were just 10% among young people in regional areas, indicating many young people may be unknowingly carrying the disease.

It also found rates were slightly higher among regional participants, at 4.8% compared to 4.6% of those tested, with prevalence of the disease highest among women aged 16-19 years old and men aged 20-24 years old.