Chlamydia Still #1 Sex Disease
Love Bug With a Bite
A Reservoir of Chlamydia continued...
It is young, sexually active women aged 25 and younger who are
most at risk. These women, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force this year
advised, should get chlamydia screening as a part of their routine
Does screening work? Workowski points to the northwestern
states of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska.
"They had an initial prevalence rate of 13% [of women aged
15-24] in the late '80s, and now it is less than 5%," she says. "It is
due to large-scale screening programs in family-planning clinics. These have
proven very effective. Now we need funding to develop the information systems
needed to monitor patients for reporting so that case reports go into an
automated information system."
The task force also recommended chlamydia screening for
pregnant women aged 25 and younger. However, it did not recommend routine
screening for all asymptomatic men or for asymptomatic women older than 25
because there is not enough evidence that the benefits of such screening would
justify the cost.
Chlamydia: A Bug With a Bite
Chlamydia is a type of bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis.
It can infect the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, and eye. It's sexually
transmitted by either vaginal or anal intercourse. Condoms offer partial
protection -- they are much, much better than nothing, and they do stop
HIV -- but they don't always stop the chlamydia bug.
Unlike most other bacteria, chlamydia can't reproduce itself
unless it gets inside human cells. The cells it likes the best are the
type that line the urinary and genital tracts of both men and women. These
cells, known as columnar epithelial cells, are supposed to keep germs out while
allowing fluids to pass through. They are especially plentiful in the lining of
the urethra and at the entrance to the cervix. It's here that the bug loves to
Women may not notice the early symptoms of infection, but
within five to 10 days of infection they may have bleeding between menstrual
periods, painful urination or intercourse, vaginal bleeding after
intercourse, low-grade fever, frequent urge to urinate, an inflamed cervix,
abnormal vaginal discharge, and even a yellowish discharge from the cervix that
may smell bad.
The bottom line? If you're a sexually active man, pay attention
to your body. Get tested if you have any symptoms. If you're a sexually active
woman 25 or younger, get tested every time you see the doctor.