Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a presentation today at the National STD Prevention Conference in Minneapolis, stating that according to their estimates, only 38% of sexually active women were tested for Chlamydia. They recommend that all women under the age of 25 seek regular screening for Chlamydia.

Chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States, with young people being most affected. The problem is compounded by a general lack of symptoms, and thus the disease many go undetected and untreated. Chlamydia infection in the long term can have serious ramifications, particularly for young women. Problems include chronic pelvic pain, potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

The test for Chlamydia is an easy over the counter test available at most Pharmacies and is self administered. The bacterial infection is relatively easily warded off with antibiotics once detected. The CDC researchers looked at data from the 2006-2008 cycle of the National Survey of Family Growth, to assess self testing for Chlamydia amongst women aged 15 to 25.

Overall testing rates seemed low, although encouragingly testing was most common among African-American women, those who had multiple sex partners, and those who received public insurance or were uninsured. These are some of highest risk for Chlamydia, and researchers take note of the willingness of these groups to take care of their sexual health.

Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention said

“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 … Annual chlamydia screening can protect young women’s reproductive health now and safeguard it for the future.”

The CDC says that a person diagnosed with chlamydia should be retested three months after initial treatment. This makes sure that those who may have become re-infected can be promptly treated with antibiotics. Additional data presented at the conference showed that retesting rates remain low, and many reinfections likely are being missed.

By examining available data on more than 60,000 men and women who tested positive for chlamydia between 2007 and 2009 at facilities participating in CDC’s Infertility Prevention Project in New York, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands, analysts with Cicatelli Associates, Inc. found that just 14 percent of men and 22 percent of women were retested within 30-180 days. Of those who were retested, a significant proportion again tested positive (25 percent of men and 16 percent of women).

Gail Bolan, M.D., director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention

“It is critical that health care 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 … Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics, and retesting plays a vital role in preventing serious future health consequences.”

Written by Rupert Shepherd