Undiagnosed STD May Affect Many Americans

Chlamydia may often be undiagnosed and affect over one million people in the US

(RxWiki News) STDs often come with unpleasant symptoms, but when infections don't come with visible symptoms, many patients are left unaware. A new report focused on one such STD — chlamydia.

This report estimated that 1.8 million people in the US have chlamydia infections, and many of these people may not realize it.

"Routinely discuss STD tests with your doctor."

According to CDC, chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) affecting both women and men. The infection can involve symptoms like burning during urination or discharge, but it can often have no symptoms, meaning many who are infected may be unaware.

Chlamydia can be treated, but if untreated, it can lead to complications like inflammation in a woman's reproductive system, making getting pregnant difficult or impossible, said CDC.

This new study, led by Elizabeth Torrone, MSPH, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of STD Prevention, aimed to estimate the number of chlamydia infections in the US.

To do so, Dr. Torrone and team used data from the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and US Census data. In NHANES, participants between the ages of 14 and 39 were tested for chlamydia.

Of the 8,330 participants in this category, 1.7 percent were found to have chlamydia. The rates were highest among sexually active females between the ages of 14 and 19 years old, particularly non-Hispanic black females.

Based on these findings, Dr. Torrone and team then estimated that 1.8 million people in the US have chlamydia infections. The researchers also estimated that one out of 15 sexually active females between age 14 and 19 has a chlamydia infection.

"Healthcare providers should screen all sexually active young females annually and ensure that all sex partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia are treated appropriately," wrote Dr. Torrone and team.

CDC echoed this position, recommending, "Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for chlamydia or other STDs. If you are a sexually active woman aged 25 years or younger, you should get a test for chlamydia every year."

Data on sexual activity was self-reported by participants, which may have allowed for some error. More research is needed to confirm the findings.

This study was presented June 10 at CDC's STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Studies presented at conferences are considered preliminary until published in a peer-review journal.

Review Date: 
June 11, 2014