Millions Have Chlamydia and Don't Know It - Should YOU Be Tested? Here's What the CDC Recommends...
Venereal disease happens. Any person who has had sexual relations has the potential to contract a sexually related illness. This sounds like an obvious fact. My patients are a bit shocked, though, when I recommend screening for venereal diseases. Their even more shocked when I find them. One illness, chlamydia, is particularly insidious and as such is under diagnosed, especially in young women. An alarming number of females in America are harboring chlamydia unknowingly. This blog will cover the facts toward increased awareness of chlamydia's public health pitfalls.
An estimated 1.8 million American women between the ages 14 and 39 have chlamydia and the vast majority do not know it. These statistics are based on 2012 but rates over the past decade have been relatively fixed. The rates are highest in African American women followed by Latino women. Among the various sexually transmitted illnesses, chlamydia is the most common in the U.S. Chlamydia can be contracted with any sort of sex-- vaginal, anal or oral.
Rationale for Screening
Aside from being common, chlamydia is easily treated. Without any complications, it can even be cured with a single dose of antibiotic. With more widespread screening and treatment, rates of transmission and spread also decrease. Screening is simple and involves a random urine test
Most importantly, however, is the fact that catching chlamydia early and treating removes the potential for chlamydia to cause problems with a woman's future fertility. If left untreated, chlamydia infection can cause scaring of the delicate fallopian tubes where sperm and egg come together in conception. This scaring can also make a women more susceptible to having an ectopic pregnancy. This condition involves implantation of the embryo in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy leads invariably to miscarriage and can be life-threatening to the mother.
To capture chlamydia, it is recommended that any female under the age of 25 who has been sexually active be screened on an annual basis. Though not in the official recommendations, it is also a good idea for sexually active males and those over the age of 25 to be screened.
Chlamydia, the most common sexually transmitted illness, infects a relatively large proportion of young sexually active individuals without causing ANY symptoms. The infection is easily treated and can prevent future complications, most notably with fertility. If you meet any of the recommendations for screening call your physician or local public health clinic for a simple urine test.
For more information visit the CDC website:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, September 2014.