Common Bacterial Infection Can Cause Infertility Yet Few Young Women Get Screened

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- Chlamydia, a common bacterial infection can lead to infertility, yet new data released today by the American Social Health Association (ASHA) reveal that few young women are getting screened for this disease.  The data summarize millions of Chlamydia tests performed in 2005 by Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, a provider of diagnostics testing and services.

"Chlamydia poses a great threat to women, because it typically has mild symptoms or none at all, so it often goes undiagnosed," said Peter Leone, MD, medical director of the North Carolina HIV/STD Prevention and Control Branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. "If left untreated, up to 40 percent of women with chlamydia develop pelvic inflammatory disease which can result in infertility."

The average age of people who were tested for chlamydia in 2005 was 28.9 for women and 30.5 for men, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 79 percent of new infections annually are in people 24 years of age and younger.

"Only about one-third of physicians regularly screen patients for chlamydia, yet these data show the need to test younger women to reduce their risk for infertility," said Leone.

According to the CDC, one in two sexually active people will contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD), like chlamydia, by age 25.  Furthermore, half of all new STD and HIV infections are in people under 25.

April is National STD Awareness Month.  As a result, ASHA has launched the "get teSTeD" campaign to convey important information about STDs to the public.  ASHA also will offer a free brochure, "STDs, The Real Deal," which includes testing locations and advice about knowing what tests to ask for when talking with a doctor.

"Get teSTeD is a continuation of ASHA's long term commitment to help arm people with the information they need to care for their health and boost awareness among the medical community about the need to test and ultimately protect young Americans," said James R. Allen, MD, MPH, president and CEO of ASHA.  "ASHA's campaign will boost awareness about the link between chlamydia and infertility and encourage women to visit their doctor or a clinic to get tested."

Source: American Social Health Association

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