Two major forces in American disease prevention have come together to launch a new program encouraging the population to get STD tests to prevent the spread of chalamydia and gonorrhoea. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Chlamydia Coalition have agreed to co-operate to overcome the main obstacles that are preventing chlamydia screening.

The first of these is ignorance; far too many people are unaware of chlamydia. According to the Wall Street Journal, who ran a report on the problem of chlamydia screening, many people just haven't heard of it. In an interview with the paper, the director of a STD test clinic in Chicago said, "I see people in my clinic who can barely pronounce the word."

Another issue is that many people who are carrying the disease mistake the symptoms of chlamydia, which can include bleeding between periods, unusual discharge, and pelvic pain, for something else, as the symptoms are fairly common. Often the symptoms are mild, unspecific and easily dismissed.

Adding to this problem is the fact that many people do not display symptoms at all, meaning that they do not even consider they may be infected or need a chlamydia test. It is estimated that 50% of men with the disease, and 70% of women, will have no physical reason to believe they are infected.

Though the disease is easily treated with a course of anti-biotics, left undiagnosed it can have serious consequences for fertility. Chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which itself can cause infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes. It also can cause miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.

These risks make it crucial for women to get regularly tested for the infection, but according to the Centre for Disease Prevention's STD division, this just isn't happening. Less than 40% of women in the female at-risk groups, namely sexual active women under 25 and older women who have had multiple sexual partners, are having a chlamydia test regularly. John Douglas, head of the STD division, said "You'd think this would be a no-brainer. That's why we're trying to get the message out."

Chlamydia is up to 3 times more common in women than men, according to some experts. They have said that this high incidence rate may possibly be due to men's bodies eliminating the infection more readily than women. Nonetheless, men are also at risk of infection and can also become infertile if the disease is left untreated.

At this week's conference in London of the International Centre for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Research chlamydia screening was a major topic of discussion. Many countries are having problems reaching their target audience, largely teenagers, and marketing has been raised as a problem.  The Journal identified also identified health care providers as also being an issue, with many family doctors reluctant to discuss chlamydia and testing with teenagers.

The American Social Health Association said that there needs to be more targeted testing for teenagers and an acceptance of their lifestyle.  Their president Lynn Barcley said, "A lot of health-care providers aren't making the connection when they are dealing with adolescents. But to pretend that teenagers aren’t having sex is very dangerous."