Chlamydia Screening Recommended
Public health officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health encourage all sexually active females 25 years of age and younger to be screened annually for the sexually transmitted disease (STD), chlamydia. Screening for pregnant women and older women with risk factors, such as multiple or new sexual partners, is also recommended.
“Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the U.S. and most females have no symptoms to alert them they should be tested,” states Maggie King, RN, Women’s Health Coordinator. “We see the highest rate of chlamydia in sexually active young women.”
Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain. “This is why it is so important to us for females to be tested for chlamydia,” says King.
Half of pregnant women with untreated chlamydia transmit the infection to their newborn. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, there is some evidence that untreated chlamydial infections can lead to premature delivery. Babies born to infected mothers can get the infection in their eyes or respiratory tracts causing pneumonia or pink eye.
Testing for chlamydia is simple. Urine-based screening tests make it possible to screen for chlamydia without invasive medical procedures. “It is a misconception that screening for chlamydia is done whenever a Pap smear is performed,” says King. “A patient needs to specify to their health care provider they want the test done.”
Chlamydia can easily be treated and cured with antibiotics. All sex partners should be evaluated, tested, and treated. Women whose sex partners have not been appropriately treated are at high risk for re-infection. Women and men with chlamydia should be retested about three months after treatment of an initial infection, regardless of whether they believe that their sex partners were treated.
The best way to avoid transmission of any STD is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected. Screening is conducted yearly through the Family Planning program for all STDs; however, if a person feels they may be at risk for a STD at any other time, they can be screened through the STD program at their local health department.