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  • Chlamydia trachomatis ("chlamydia") is the most widespread sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the United States.
  • In 1995, 477,638 cases of chlamydia were reported. Because most people still aren't tested, health officials estimate that the actual number of cases of annual infection are about nine times that number.
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) estimates that 3 million new cases of chlamydia develop each year.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15- to 19-year-old girls account for almost half of all reported cases among women, and women aged 20-24 account for an additional 33 percent new cases of chlamydial infection occur each year.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 10 adolescent girls tested for chlamydia is infected.
  • Reported cases for women greatly exceed those for men because men are rarely screened and have fewer complications. And yet as many men are probably infected as women.
  • Annual costs attributed to chlamydia infection and treatment are estimated to be $2.7 billion!
  • Risk factors for chlamydial infection include:
    • Having multiple sex partners.
    • Having a partner who has other sex partners.
    • Having had an STD in the past.
    • Not using condoms consistently and correctly.
  • Chlamydia infection is preventable by practicing safe sex.
  • The greatest risk to women with chlamydia is not knowing they have it.
  • A reliable chlamydia test is available.
  • Chlamydia is treatable and it is often curable with antibiotic therapy. 
  • Because this infection has no symptoms in two of every three infected women and half of all men, it is a silent epidemic.
  • Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to significant medical problems for women, the most serious being pelvic inflammatory disease or "PID".
  • Chlamydia causes nearly half of the 1 million cases of PID each year. 
  • Not only is PID painful, but one out of five women with PID become infertile.
  • Another one in five women with PID will develop chronic pelvic pain.
  • One in 10 women with PID will have a life-threatening tubal pregnancy, the leading cause of pregnancy-related death for American women in the first trimester.
  • Chlamydia can seriously harm a newborn by causing serious eye, ear, and lung infections.
  • Research has shown that women infected with chlamydia are three to five times more likely to acquire HIV if exposed to the virus.
  • Chlamydia also can cause proctitis (inflamed rectum) and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye lining). Although less common in the US than other countries, chlamydia bacteria can also infect the throat as a result of oral sex with an infected partner.

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Created: 4/15/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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