Researchers have developed a new urine test which will allow doctors to diagnose Chlamydia infection in men within the hour, improving the ability to successfully treat the infection on the spot and prevent re-transmission.
Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Sexually active women aged under 25 have a one in 10 chance of getting chlamydia, while men aged between 20 and 30 are most at risk of becoming infected.
In the majority of cases, the disease is asymptomatic in both men and women. If symptoms show, they may include discharge or pain when passing urine for men.
Previous research suggests that, if untreated - even when no symptoms show - it may be a cause of reduced fertility. In women, it can lead to even more serious complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancy.
Once diagnosed, Chlamydia can be treated easily with a one-off antibiotic pill. However, until now, male rapid tests for Chlamydia have been relatively inaccurate and involved urethral swabs, which can cause discomfort.
"Horror stories about painful swabs have put men off getting tested for Chlamydia, and other non-invasive tests are expensive, technically complex and take days to obtain the result," explains Dr Helen Lee from the University of Cambridge.
"This has led to many cases of infection in men going undiagnosed and being transmitted to their female partners, with potentially more serious complications," the expert added.
Now, a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) points to a test called the Chlamydia Rapid Test, which has been previously assessed on women.
The urine test developed by Lee and colleagues at Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW) and the University of Cambridge, can be used with minimal training. It is designed to be used in conjunction with FirstBurst, a device for collecting the first voided urine from men. FirstBurst collects six times the amount of Chlamydia bacteria compared to a standard urine sample.
The test, which was developed with funding from the Wellcome Trust, then uses a unique signal amplification system developed by DRW to boost the test's sensitivity and gives the results in less than an hour.