Boston health officials reported that high rates of chlamydia are driving them to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the sexually transmitted disease.
According to The Boston Globe, the STD is especially prevalent in certain city neighborhoods, including Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury. In fact, in one Dorchester neighborhood, Bowdoin-Geneva, infection rates are two times as high as they are in the rest of the city. This statistic has caused the city's public health commission to make chlamydia one of its top priorities.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that chlamydia is most common among young people. It is estimated that one in 15 sexually active females between the ages of 14 and 19 has the STD.
Boston health officials stated that they are seeing more cases of the disease among the city's teens and young adults as well, according to the news source.
High infection rates in Boston have also prompted community groups to focus on STD awareness and prevention. For instance, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston is working on different strategies to educate girls. Some of them include creating and distributing fliers and brochures and holding presentations and workshops in certain communities.
"The focus is on stopping chlamydia, which is a gateway to other diseases," Mia Roberts, who is helping spearhead awareness efforts for the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, told The Boston Globe.
Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted during sexual contact. It can infect both men and women and can cause long-term health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility, if left untreated. Health officials state that condom use is one of the best ways to prevent infection.
Although it can be cured with antibiotic medications, experts state that many people with chlamydia don't know they have it because the STD is often asymptomatic.
Expedited Partner Therapy, which was introduced in Massachusetts in 2011, allows sexual partners of those infected with chlamydia and other STDs to receive treatment without seeing a doctor. Individuals who are tested in other states may also be able to get medication for their partners.