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
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
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
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
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."