Public Health Scotland (PHS) has today published a report describing chlamydia trachomatis infection, the most common sexually transmitted infection in Scotland. The report covers the period 2013-2022 and shows that before the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of chlamydia in men and women were steadily increasing, with 17,336 cases reported in 2019. Reported cases dropped during the pandemic, probably because of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions, but they have started to rise again and in 2022 there were 13,148 cases of chlamydia diagnosed in Scotland.
Chlamydia infection is passed from person to person through unprotected (without a condom) vaginal, anal or oral sex. It often has no symptoms, but, if untreated, it can lead to serious health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women which can cause ectopic pregnancy and infertility. In men it can cause epididymitis (a painful inflammation affecting the testicles). Chlamydia infection can be treated if the appropriate antibiotic is taken at an early stage.
Most cases of chlamydia in Scotland are seen among women and over 70% of cases in men and women are aged 30 years of age or less.
Dr Kirsty Roy, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health Scotland explained:
“While the number of cases is not as high as that seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, chlamydia remains the most common sexually transmitted infection in Scotland.
“The best way to reduce your risk of catching sexually transmitted infections is the correct and consistent use of a condom for sex with new and casual partners. If you think you have chlamydia, you should make an appointment to get tested. Testing and treatment can stop the infection and reduce your risk of having more serious problems.”
If you are concerned about chlamydia or other sexually transmitted infections, further information on the signs and symptoms and where to seek advice is available on NHS Inform.