IT is an invisible infection that can leave sufferers infertile.
With many never showing any symptoms at all, chlamydia can go unnoticed and untreated until it is too late and irreversible damage has already been done.
But Hampshire health bosses are on a mission to slash the number of men and women whose dream of one day starting a family have been destroyed by an infection that, if caught early, can be easily treated.
Between April 2011 and March 2012 nearly 2,000 people under the age of 25 across Hampshire and Southampton tested positive for chlamydia – and latest figures reveal this figure is set to soar 12 months on.
Between April and September 2012 there were 1,331 positive tests among young people in the region, more than half the previous year’s total with figures for seven months still to go.
But despite the spread of the disease across the county it has failed to spark a surge in the number of people getting tested, with around 48,000 people opting to have the test each year.
With no increase in the take up of tests, bosses at Solent NHS Trust fear many more young people are unknowingly living with the infection, which, if left untreated, can result in pelvic pain and infertility.
So they have launched the Keep Calm and Get Tested campaign, backed by the Daily Echo, to urge more people to get regularly tested, get treated and end the uncertainty hanging over their sexual health.
Charlotte Bemand, head of integrated sexual health at Solent NHS Trust, said: “Most people I speak with don’t realise just how prevalent sexual infections are in their local area.
“In Southampton alone, 405 young people under the age of 25 tested positive for chlamydia last year.
“We engaged 9,000 young people in testing that year – but we are most concerned about those young people who have never had a test for chlamydia since becoming sexually active.”
Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection in the UK, yet the test is so simple and painless.
All you have to do is provide a urine sample and within two weeks you will get your results by text. You don’t even have to go to a clinic, the test kits can be sent to your home, in an unmarked envelope.
If the results come back positive you will be prescribed antibiotics, which for 95 per cent of people will fight the infection within a week.
Charlotte added: “Sex is an enjoyable and healthy part of a young person’s life, but life can be busy and sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves and other people.
“If you have recently changed sexual partner it’s important to get yourself tested as you may not realise you have an infection because you may not have any symptoms at all.
“Sadly, for some people, their chances of starting a family are affected by infertility, caused by chlamydia. But testing and treatment couldn’t be easier.
“We realise that some people are daunted by going to a sexual health clinic for a test and that is why we provide a number of options to make taking the test easy, confidential and convenient.”
To find out more about getting tested call 0300 300 2016 for Hampshire and 0300 123 7399 for Southampton.