Only 1 in 4 Young Women Get Chlamydia Tests
Rates for Chlamydia Tests Remain Low Despite Recommendations
Oct. 28, 2004 -- Only about one in four of young women most at risk for
chlamydia are getting chlamydia tests, according to a new CDC study.
Researchers found rates of chlamydia tests among sexually active young women
aged 16-24 who were enrolled in commercial health plans have increased only
slightly from 20% in 1999 to 26% in 2001.
Chlamydia test rates were higher among young women enrolled in Medicare.
However the rates were still well below national recommendations that call for
routine chlamydia tests for all sexually active women under the age of 26 and
pregnant women of all ages.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., but
up to 70% of chlamydia infections cause no noticeable symptoms.
If untreated, chlamydia can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and
infection shortly before or after giving birth.
Chlamydia Testing Lacking
In the study, which appears in the Oct. 29 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report, researchers analyzed rates of chlamydia tests among
young women enrolled in 335 commercial health plans and 92 Medicare plans from
The report showed that the percentage of sexually active women aged 16-26
enrolled in commercial health plans who received chlamydia tests rose gradually
from 20% in 1999 to 25% in 2000 and 26% in 2001.
Among those enrolled in Medicare plans, the percentage who got chlamydia
tests was 28% in 1999, 36% in 2000, and 38% in 2001.
Testing rates were slightly higher among younger women aged 16-20 enrolled
in commercial health plans than among women aged 21-26 in this group. But with
Medicare users, testing rates were slightly higher among older women aged
Researchers say several factors may be contributing to the low rates of
chlamydia tests found by the study. For example, health care providers may
underestimate the rates of chlamydia infections in adolescent girls and young
women, or they may have a misperception that adolescent girls are not sexually
active, and their patients may not be requesting chlamydia tests.
They say the findings highlight the need to increase chlamydia tests to
reduce the estimated $249 million in direct medical costs of chlamydia and its
associated complications for adolescents and young adults.