Recommendations Expanded for Chlamydia Screening in 2015

By: MI Science Department Staff

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States.  Chlamydia prevalence among sexually active young persons (ages 14-24) is nearly three times that among persons ages 25-39 years. It is estimated that 1 in 15 sexually active females aged 14 – 19 has chlamydia.1

In June of 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2015.” One change from the guidelines presented in 2010, is a recommendation to expand chlamydia screening.  Previous recommendations included annual screening for chlamydia for all sexually active females under the age of twenty-five years. The new guidelines expand annual screening to include women over twenty-four who are at increased risk for chlamydia infection.  Increased risks include having a new sexual partner, having more than one sexual partner, having a partner who has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, or having a sexual partner who has concurrent partners.2

In a recent article, the Chair of the committee on sexually transmitted infections for the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, Dr. Gale Burstein, had this to say, “Screening is vital, because chlamydia usually causes no symptoms. It’s easily cured with antibiotics, but if left untreated, the infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in some women.”3

A small study done at the University of Michigan, involving five outpatient clinics associated with the University, showed a dramatic decrease in chlamydia screening among 15 – 21 year-olds from 2008 to 2012. The researchers believe the decrease in screening is associated with a change in pap smear recommendations for young women. Since pap tests had not been shown to benefit younger women, the age for the first pap test was increased to age 21, regardless of the patient’s sexual behavior. The unintended consequence of the delayed pap smear was that chlamydia screening decreased significantly in the younger patients.4

Accurate screening tests for chlamydia can now be performed without a pelvic exam.  A urine sample can be used for testing, as well as a swab sample from the vagina that the patient collects herself.  The primary focus for women’s care should be early detection, prevention of complications, and testing and/or treatment of sexual partners.2

What should you be tested for? Go to www.stdwizard.org for your personal risk assessment.

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed) http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm Accessed Sept 2015
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2015,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 5, 2015.
  3. Amy Norton, “Change in ‘Pap’ Test Linked to Drop in STD Testing,” Health Day: News for Healthier Living, July21,2015 http://consumer.healthday.com/sexualhealthinformation32/chlamydia129/stdtestsforyoungwomendropfollowingchangeinpapsmearrules701494.Html Accessed Sept 2015