Women's Health

Too Few Women Seek Testing for Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S., and one that can lead to infertility if it's not treated. Yet only about a third of sexually active young women are tested for it, the CDC says.

Photo of four young women next to a billiards table

A related study on chlamydia also found that less than a quarter of men and women treated for chlamydia returned to their health care provider for follow-up testing.

The CDC recommends that all sexually active women 25 and younger be tested for chlamydia each year. If a woman needs treatment for chlamydia, the CDC recommends that she be retested at three months after treatment or at her next annual health checkup.

No symptoms

Testing is important because most people infected with chlamydia don't have any symptoms and so aren't aware that they have it.

The CDC estimates that about 2.8 million new cases of chlamydia occur each year in the U.S.

Karen Hoover, M.D., at the CDC, says the study results are "alarming." With only 38 percent of young women getting screened for chlamydia, that means two-thirds, or 9 million women, are not.

High-risk groups

The CDC survey found that groups at high risk for chlamydia were more likely to get tested, Dr. Hoover says. This includes African-American women, at 55 percent; women with more than one sexual partner, at 47 percent; and women who had no health insurance, at 41 percent. Women who sought reproductive health care - for contraception, for instance - also were more likely to get chlamydia screening.

For the study on follow-up testing, researchers at Cicatelli Associates, a nonprofit health education group, analyzed lab data on about 64,000 men and women who had tested positive for chlamydia. Only 11 percent of men and 21 percent of women went for a retest within six months of the diagnosis.

"Retesting rates were much lower than we had expected," says study author Kelly Morrison Opdyke, M.P.H.

Trends in retesting

Young adults under age 25 were more likely to seek retesting, as were people who visited family planning clinics and health centers. Among those who got the follow-up test, about 25 percent of men and 16 percent of the women still tested positive for chlamydia.

The study results were presented at this year's National STD Prevention Conference.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Medical Association - Chlamydia Screening: A Routine Test

CDC - Chlamydia Fact Sheet

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Chlamydia

May 2012

Protect Yourself Against Chlamydia

You can get chlamydia by having sex with someone who has it. You increase your risk if you have sex without using a condom. Your risk is also higher if you have more than one partner. If you have sex, correctly using a condom can decrease your risk.

Having a screening test can help prevent the spread of chlamydia because it allows for prompt treatment. If you are infected, get treated, and tell your partner, because he or she needs a test, too. If your partner tests positive, he or she will need to complete antibiotic treatment. You should not have sex until you have both completed treatment.

Chlamydia is easy to treat. Several antibiotic treatments are effective. As little as one dose of a certain antibiotic can kill the bacteria. Tell your doctor if you might be pregnant. Some antibiotics should not be used in pregnant women.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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