April Is Chlamydia Awareness Month

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | 07:00pm

Tennessee Ranks Ninth Worst In Cases Of Chlamydia

Nashville, April 26, 2006

Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by bacteria, is one of the most common STDs. During April, Chlamydia Awareness Month, the Tennessee Department of Health wants to increase public awareness about Chlamydia and the importance of prevention, early detection and prompt referral for treatment, and to encourage testing for those as risk.

Any sexually active person is at risk for infection, and the greater the number of sexual partners a person has, the greater the risk of infection. Sexually active teenage girls and young women are at particularly high risk.

In 2004, there were 929,462 Chlamydia infections reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, although health officials believe as many as 2.8 million new cases may actually be occurring each year but many are not aware of their infection and do not seek testing.

In 2000, Tennessee was ranked 18th worst in the number of cases of Chlamydia with 15,069 cases. However, Tennessee jumped to ninth worst nationally with 22,515 cases in 2004. The increase in cases is, in part, due to the Department using a more sensitive screening method to test for Chlamydia and efforts to focus testing on sexually active females ages 25 and under, those at the highest risk for contracting the disease.

“To help prevent the serious consequences of Chlamydia, screening at least annually is recommended for all sexually active women 25 and younger,” said Jeanece Seals, director of HIV/AIDS/STD Section, Tennessee Department of Health. “An annual screening test also is recommended for older women with risk factors for Chlamydia such as a new sex partner or multiple sex partners and all pregnant women should have a screening test for Chlamydia. Chlamydia testing is available at your county health department or from your health care provider.”

Symptoms of Chlamydia are often mild or absent. About three-quarters of infected women and half of infected men experience no symptoms. However, Chlamydial infections can lead to serious complications particularly among women before they ever know there is a problem. Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotic, but left untreated can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancy and increased risk of acquiring HIV infection.  Chlamydia can also be passed from the mother to the baby during delivery resulting in pneumonia and conjunctivitis in the baby.  If untreated, these can become very serious health risks for the baby.

If a person has been treated for Chlamydia or any other STD, he or she should notify all recent sexual partners so they can also seek treatment. This will reduce the risk that the sexual partners will develop serious complications from Chlamydia and will also reduce the person’s risk of becoming re-infected or spreading the infection to others.

To learn more about Chlamydia in Tennessee visit the Department of Health’s Web site http://www.tn.gov/health. Contact your local health department to learn about local and regional activities. A list of local health departments is also available on the Department of Health’s Web site at http://www2.state.tn.us/health/LocalDepts/ index.html.

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