How do people get infected with chlamydia?
Anyone can get chlamydia, usually through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. The most common risk factors are:
- A history of chlamydia
- A history of unprotected sex (vagina, anal or oral)
- A new sexual partner
- Multiple sexual partners
- A history of substance abuse
Due to reporting disparities and a number of other variables, there is a higher prevalence of chlamydia among sexually active females, teenagers, young adults and African-Americans...for example, women are more likely to get screened, and some ethnic and racial minority groups are more likely to use public clinics that report STD cases. As well, awareness of STDs and how to prevent them, and access to regular healthcare are inconsistent among populations that are disadvantaged by poverty and other social determinants...these groups may therefore be more likely to engage in risky sexual activity.
How is chlamydia spread?
Chlamydia is only transmitted sexually, or through birth. You cannot get chlamydia from toilet seats, towels, shaking hands, deep kissing, sharing a glass of water, or the like.
Is it possible to get chlamydia again?
Even if you've been treated for chlamydia, you're not immune...you can be re-infected. That's why sexual partners should be treated at the same time so that an untreated partner still carrying the bacteria doesn't re-infect the treated partner.
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Last reviewed by Lisa Oldson, MD, January 2011.
Lisa Oldson, MD
"The first thing I tell a patient about STDs is that if you're worried about one STD, you should probably worry about all STDs. In other words, if you had unprotected sex and you're worried about a possible HIV exposure, it's important to understand that hepatitis can be spread in the same fashion...ditto for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis."