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A pharmacist has issued a warning ahead of festival season this year regarding sexually transmitted infection.
With attendance at music concerts and festivals in the UK reaching just under 34 million attendees in 2019 and after two years of postponed gigs, Chemist Click superintendent pharmacist Abbas Kanani predicts this year could lead to a high rate of STI cases.
While some eager festival goers may assume a sore throat could be down to excessive signing and screaming, late nights or unhealthy food choice, it could be a symptom of throat chlamydia.
This STI can spread through contact with infected body fluids including semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid, and vaginal secretions and although this STI primarily affects the genitals, it is possible to contract it in the throat, with soreness a key symptom.
The warning comes after more than a third of festival goers admitted to having had sex at a festival and 17 percent of respondents admitted to having sex with someone new, a survey by Ticketmaster found.
Throat Chlamydia symptoms often include redness, pain or inflammation around the mouth and throat. People may also notice sores around the mouth and lips, dental issues, swollen lymph nodes, bumps on the tongue, white spots towards the back of the throat and tonsils and low-grade fever.
“The uplift of Covid-19 restrictions combined with an appetite to meet new people and increased testing may see an increase in cases this summer,” Kanani warns.
Some people may be asymptomatic, which makes this STI 'highly transmissible' Kanani says. Using contraception during sex is extremely important to avoid being infected with chlamydia and not just in the throat. “It is contracted by having penetrative sex, anal sex, or from giving and receiving oral sex, with someone who has chlamydia.
“Untreated, chlamydia can lead to epididymitis and infertility in men and pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can cause difficulties in getting pregnant, long-term pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy.”
Data shows the highest number of cases of chlamydia diagnosed in England were among women aged between 20 and 24 years, with more than 36,000 cases, while more than 24,000 men aged between 25 and 34 years contracted the STI.
However a report by Public Health England in 2020 shows that testing is far higher in women than men. “Only 30 percent of female chlamydia patients notice any signs, as opposed to 50 percent of male patients,” says Kanani.
A common misconception is that chlamydia can be spread through kissing. Unlike herpes, syphilis and cytomegalovirus, oral chlamydia cannot be caught by kissing, even if the person you kiss has chlamydia in the throat. This is because chlamydia is not transmitted through saliva.
Chlamydia is not the only STI that affects the throat; gonorrhoea, syphilis, HSV, HPV and HIV all cause throat soreness. It’s imperative to practice safe sex, especially with new people.
The best way to avoid contracting an STI is by using precautions, Kanani adds: "Using condoms for mouth to penis contact and a dam during mouth to vagina or oral-anal contact, along with regular sexual health check or STI tests, are simple and effective ways to prevent contracting throat and oral chlamydia."
Throat chlamydia can be treated with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline.