Sexual health is being ‘threatened’ by lack of chlamydia screening

Jen Lilley IMG_0214-webThe safety of an entire generation could be increasingly jeopardised by a cavalier attitude to sexual health, according to a recent report. Publishing its results on March 13th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that just 38 per cent of sexually active young women had been screened for chlamydia in the 12 month period, despite the CDC recommendation that all women aged 25 and under in this situation ought to be annually screened.

While it seems like awareness of the STD is much greater in the UK, with even high street chemists like Lloydspharmacy running chlamydia tests at the discretion of those wanting to be tested, it could be a different story in the US. The CDC’s analysis, which was presented today at the National STD Prevention Conference in Minneapolis, truly highlighted the need to expand chlamydia screening and retesting.

CDC researchers had a look at all self-reported data on chlamydia testing among young women and teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 25 across the US between 2006 and 2008 – the most recent data available. It was concluded that testing rates are low, though are at least high among certain demographics. These included African-American women, those who have had sex with multiple partners, as well as people who are uninsured; the CDC was encouraged, as these are some of the groups who have statistically been at the highest risk of chlamydia.

Nonetheless, Kevin Fenton, MD of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention said that much work still needed to be done. “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,” he explained. “Annual chlamydia screening can protect young women’s reproductive health now and safeguard it for the future.”

The CDC went on to underline the problems associated with what is now the most commonly reported infectious disease in the US. While it is often hard or nigh-on impossible to see the symptoms, this only means that infections go undetected and untreated. Severe long-term health consequences particularly fall on the shoulders of young women, such as chronic pelvic pain, infertility and the possibility of potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy.

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