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Low Chlamydia Screening Rates Spur Outreach to Health Professionals

Untreated infections cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy

WASHINGTON, April 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Screening rates for chlamydia remain low in the United States even though failure to identify this sexually transmitted disease and treat infected women can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain.

In an effort to prevent such serious consequences, Partnership for Prevention and the National Chlamydia Coalition, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has developed a new guide to help health care providers improve the delivery of screening services to women.

"Why Screen for Chlamydia? An Implementation Guide for Healthcare Providers" includes sections on providing confidential care to adolescents, taking a sexual history with adolescent and adult patients, and provides links to resources and tools that will be helpful for providers. The guide can be accessed online at

"Too few doctors realize that undetected and untreated STDs can adversely affect fertility and reproductive health in later years," said Dr. Corinne M. Husten, interim president of Partnership for Prevention.

"We want doctors to improve delivery rates of this high-value preventive service," Husten said. "And we want sexually active young women to understand that a simple urine test now may make an important difference in their reproductive health in the future."

Most young women have no symptoms of a chlamydial infection, and about half of pregnant women with chlamydia pass the infection to their newborns.

An analysis published in the April 17 issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report puts the chlamydia screening rate at 41.6 percent in 2007. That was substantially lower than screening rates for cervical cancer via Pap test, which in 2007 were 81.7 percent in commercial health plans and 64.7 percent in Medicaid health plans.

"Because chlamydia is easily diagnosed and treated, many of the severe health consequences of chlamydia are preventable," said John M. Douglas, Jr., M.D., director of CDC's Division of STD Prevention. "Health care providers, educators and public health professionals must do much more to let young, sexually active women know how important it is that they be tested for chlamydia every year. It is also imperative that health care providers make screening a routine part of their medical practice."

Annual chlamydia screening is recommended for women 25 years of age and younger and others at high risk of infection by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, CDC, and professional organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Regular screening not only reduces the health consequences of chlamydia, but it is also cost-effective. According to the National Commission on Prevention Priorities, if 90 percent of eligible women were screened each year, 30,000 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) could be prevented annually. Urine-based screening tests make it possible to conduct screening without invasive medical procedures, while treatment with an antibiotic cures the infection.

Partnership for Prevention is a membership organization of businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies advancing policies and practices to prevent disease and improve the health of all Americans. We seek to increase investment in preventing disease and promoting health and to make prevention a national priority. Partnership convened the National Chlamydia Coalition made up of health professional groups, governmental agencies, and women's and youth advocacy groups, with funding support from the CDC.

SOURCE Partnership for Prevention
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