At a glance: Government boosts its anti-chlamydia campaign

What’s going on? The Department of Health’s two-year pilot scheme to bring testing for chlamydia – the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK – to our high streets is up and running. People can pick up a test-kit in 200 Boots branches in London.

Has it been successful?
Boots certainly thinks so, with more than 6,000 kits handed out from its stores across the capital since the campaign launched in November. It is thought to be the first time the DoH has contracted out such a service to a chemist.

Who's handling PR for the campaign?
Boots is doing it in-house, with healthcare PR manager Clare Stafford leading the account. Stafford has been liaising with DoH press officer Kate Evans and with the DoH sexual health campaign team at Harrison Cowley. Boots has also worked with Markettiers4dc on a radio advertorial campaign for Choice FM.

Who are the targets?
Primarily men and women aged 16 to 24, which means that messaging has been aimed at websites, university radio and newspapers, along with smaller circulation titles in London such as What's Poppin?, distributed through Odeon cinemas. BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat, Five News, the Evening Standard and freesheet Metro have all carried the story.

What's the next step?
Stafford says that PR activity will continue and the scheme may be rolled out nationally – but the decision, of course, rests with the DoH. As things stand, Boots expects to provide approximately 50,000 screenings a year.

So manufacturers of chlamydia testing kits are rubbing their hands?
No, because the kit itself is not what you would call hi-tech, consisting of a pot for a urine sample and a sheet of instructions.

Sample testing and analysis is then carried out by Quest Diagnostics. Text message has apparently been the most popular means of receiving test results.

Isn't there a bigger DoH PR contract up for grabs here?
Well remembered. Agencies from the DoH roster, including incumbent Harrison Cowley, pitched at the end of 2005 for a three-year deal to tackle the spread of STIs (PRWeek, 17 November 2005). The result is yet to be declared.

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