CDC: Chlamydia remains most widespread STI

October 2, 2014

Chlamydia trachomatis is the most often reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States with more than 1.4 million cases in 2012, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chlamydia trachomatis is still the most often reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States with more than 1.4 million cases in 2012, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexually active young women between 14 and 24 years of age are at significant risk with a prevalence more than twice the overall rate for people aged 14 to 39 years.

The genital prevalence rate for women aged 14 through 24 years, as monitored by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), was 4.7%, compared with an overall prevalence of 1.7% for the most recent monitoring period from 2007 through 2012. (The small sample size of the survey precluded sorting prevalence estimates by sex and age except for young women, who have high prevalence.)

Prevalence among sexually active women decreased significantly with increasing age, from a little over 6% for girls aged14 through 19 years to slightly under 4% for young women aged 20 through 24 years and about 1% for women aged 25 through 39 years. Among 14- through 24-year-old women, non-Hispanic blacks had the highest prevalence at 13.5%, compared with 4.5% for Mexican-Americans and 1.8% for non-Hispanic whites. 

The CDC notes that the prevalence rate of chlamydia among young women supports the recent recommendation by the United States Preventive Services Task Force to screen all sexually active females aged younger than 25 years annually for the infection. In addition, the CDC recommends at least yearly screening of men who report rectal sex and suggests considering targeted urogenital screening of sexually active young men in high-prevalence clinics.

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The NHANES findings probably underestimate the burden of chlamydia infection, the CDC report says, because the infection is asymptomatic and often undetected; the prevalence figures include only genital infections, not rectal or oropharyngeal ones; the sample size is small; and some respondents may have given false reports of sexual activity or inactivity. 

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