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NHS Hounslow is using the internet and text messaging to encourage more young people to be screened for chlamydia.

The west London primary care trust has launched an online service to enable Hounslow residents aged between 16 and 24 to request free, painless self-testing kits. The results can then be sent back by text message.

NHS Hounslow, which is responsible for the health of more than 200,000 people living in west London, is writing to 19,000 youngsters in the borough to tell them about the service.

"We are not expecting that volume of people to respond and the texting service is not being automated," said a spokesperson for the trust. "Someone will be responsible for answering and receiving the texts."

Testing for chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection that is most common among young people aged 24 and under, is already available free at Hounslow's GP practices, pharmacies and family planning community clinics. The trust said that the new electronic services will offer a more discreet way for all sexually active young people to get screened.

Tracey Warrener, lead commissioner for sexual health at NHS Hounslow, said: "Once you get the postal kit you need to give a urine or swab sample, which is then sent to a laboratory.

"The results are sent back by either text message or call or letter. If the result does come back 'positive', it is easily treated with one dose of antibiotics. I also advise that they make sure that their sexual partner also gets tested, as they may also need to be treated."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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