A call for chlamydia screening

An estimated 1.8 million Americans aged 14 to 39 are infected with the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia, and many of them don’t know it, federal health officials reported recently.

Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to infertility, problems during pregnancy and other health difficulties.

Rates of infection are highest among young women. In 2012, an estimated 4.7 percent of women ages 14 to 24 were infected with the easily treated disease, which often has no symptoms. “Chlamydia is common, and it’s especially common in young women,” said study author Elizabeth Torrone, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of STD prevention. “Most young women who are infected don’t know they have it.”

“This report really underscores the need for young women to be screened for chlamydia annually,” she said.

Chlamydia is easily diagnosed with a urine test, and it is easy to treat with antibiotics, Torrone said. She added that it’s important that the partners of infected women be treated too. If the infection is caught early, it is usually cured with a single dose of an antibiotic. If the infection has spread, however, the treatment may require two weeks of antibiotics or, in some cases, stronger intravenous antibiotics.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all sexually active women under age 25 be screened yearly for chlamydia.

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