Brighton schools chlamydia test row welcomed by health chiefs

A media firestorm over chlamydia tests given to pupils in secondary schools has been welcomed by public health officials in Brighton and Hove.

The city council defended the scheme after it came under fire from parents who said the tests were humiliating and had not been discussed in advance.

Tom Scanlon, director of public health, said critical media headlines had shown the need for information.

He said the city had the highest rate of chlamydia in the South East.

Parents who did not want to be named told BBC Sussex their children had felt uncomfortable with being offered tests which were done by the students in toilets.

They also said they had not been told the tests would be offered.

Meanwhile Stephen Green, from Christian Voice, said children were subjected to a humiliating experience with parents kept out of the picture.

The story also attracted negative headlines in a number of national newspapers.

'Good publicity'

But Mr Scanlon said one in 10 young people under 20 would get chlamydia, which is symptomless and can lead to infertility.

He said a national programme already offered screening to 15 to 24-year-olds, but added: "Where best to discuss it but in the school?

"This publicity we're getting is pretty good actually. It raises the profile of it and people start having discussions."

Nearly all secondary schools in Brighton and Hove have signed up to the scheme which the council has said is entirely consistent with government guidelines.

One school involved, Blatchington Mill, said information had been put on its website with parents able to withdraw their child.

But Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said all schools should have talked directly to parents.

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