A doctor at Thunder Bay's Lakehead University campus clinic says she hopes students will pay attention to a new sexual health campaign that encourages young people across the province to get tested for chlamydia.

Dr. Stephanie Block is accustomed to warning students about chlamydia because of its prevalence in the Thunder Bay area.

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An Ontario-wide education campaign aims to raise awareness among youth aged 18-24 about chlamydia, and the importance of being tested for this sexually transmitted infection. (Supplied)

"Is it our biggest problem?  I wouldn't say that, but it is a frequent area of concern for students and a frequent reason for them to make appointments at our centre," said the medical director at Lakehead's student clinic.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit said the area's rate of chlamydia is higher than the provincial average. Last year, 750 cases were reported in the district. The provincial chlamydia rate is 275 cases per 100,000 people, while the Thunder Bay area rate is 481 cases per 100,000 people.

Infection easily treated

The Health Unit's manager of sexual health said a new campaign aimed at 18-24 year-olds launched across Ontario this week promotes awareness. In 2011, this demographic made up 52 per cent of all reported cases of chlamydia in the province.

"People should be tested, should be treated," Maureen Twigg said.

"Sometimes people don't want to go for testing, they think maybe it can't happen to them."

Twigg said if someone tests positive for chlamydia, the infection is easily treatable with free antibiotics at the health unit.

"Chlamydia, particularly in females, can be non-symptomatic," she said. "It can cause some problems with fertility later on and so that's why we do encourage everybody who is sexually active to be tested. If you don't know you have it, then you can't be treated."

The public awareness campaign was developed by staff from different health units across the province, along with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The campaign includes:

  • 5 short videos that are used in paid placements on websites popular with 18-24 year olds.
  • Two websites: www.findoutthewholestory.ca and  www.sexualhealthontario.ca.
  • Posters for campuses across the province.
  • Additional promotion on social media through individual health units.

Block said she hopes students will pay attention to the new province-wide health campaign.

"Chlamydia is still out there," the doctor noted. "More students are still getting chlamydia [and] adults are getting chlamydia. So, obviously there can always be more that's done. We do see quite a bit of effort, so we really do appreciate efforts that are being made [through this campaign]."