"PID is very serious," says Kimberly A. Workowski, MD, FACP, chief of the guidelines unit of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention and associate professor of medicine at Emory University, in Atlanta. "The issue is to screen women and detect chlamydia before serious complications develop."
A Reservoir of Chlamydia
That sounds easy, but the numbers tell a different story. In 2000, the CDC had 379,078 reported cases of chlamydia infection. By the end of July 2001, improved screening led to 362,229 reported cases. These reports usually mean a case that has been detected and cured -- in other words, the tip of the iceberg.
"Part of problem is there is such a reservoir of people out there carrying the infection and not knowing it," says Workowski, frustration evident in her voice. "Treatment is effective. There are good therapies and in fact one medicine that is available can be given in the office so you can watch the patient take it."
The problem is finding people who are at risk and convincing them that their lives -- and those of their loved ones -- are in danger.
Who's at risk? The short answer is, all sexually active people. Since men more frequently get unmistakable early symptoms -- a discharge from the penis, a burning sensation during urination, or swollen testicles -- they are more likely to get treated.