Sexual Health news - Chlamydia

Chlamydia testing needed for young women in the U.S.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report which indicates that there is a need for chlamydia testing among young women in the U.S. According to the organization, a mere 38 percent of sexually active women aged 15 to 25 received testing for the sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Perhaps just as important as initial testing for the STI is re-testing for chlamydia, since infected individuals stand a good chance of contracting the disease again if a partner is not treated.

In order to reach their conclusions, researchers collected self-reported data from a large, nationally representative household survey called the National Survey of Family Growth from 2006 to 2008.

"This new research makes it clear that we are missing too many opportunities to protect young women from health consequences that can last a lifetime," said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

Chlamydia is sometimes asymptomatic, which is part of the reason why rates remain relatively high, as many people do not seek STD testing until a sign of infection appears. Unfortunately, the STI may result in serious consequences when left untreated. These include pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, all of which may be more difficult to treat than chlamydia caught in an early stage.

Guidelines for chlamydia testing call for a follow-up test three months after the initial screening, in order to ensure prompt treatment for re-infection. Much like the recommendation for all sexually active women to get tested for the STI, suggestions about re-testing are also going largely ignored.

Researchers looked at the data of 60,000 individuals who tested positive for Chlamydia between 2007 and 2009, and discovered that just 14 percent of men and 22 percent of women were tested again within 180 days of their initial screening. Moreover, about one-fourth of men and 16 percent of women received a positive result from their re-test, suggesting that it's not uncommon to become infected with chlamydia twice in close succession.

"It is critical that healthcare providers are not only aware of the importance of testing sexually active young women every year for chlamydia infections, but also of retesting anyone who is diagnosed," said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention.