HIV and syphilis represent the scarecrows of the sexually transmitted diseases in the US, but in fact the most widespread Americans STDs are chlamydia (over 2 million American people) and gonorrhea (or clap) (250,000 cases in the US). Both STDs were found by a government estimation more prevalent among teenagers, African-Americans and those previously infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea.
"The findings present the most comprehensive snapshot of chlamydia and gonorrhea infection in the U.S. ever reported," CDC medical
epidemiologist Dr. S. Deblina Datta, told WebMD.
The CDC team investigated 6,632 subjects aged 14 to 39 involved in a national health survey from 1999-2002. Their infection with chlamydia or gonorrhea bacteria was checked through urine samples. "We confirmed that both chlamydia and gonorrhea still pose significant health risks in the United States and that disparities exist, especially with regard to the prevalence of gonorrhea among whites and blacks," said Datta.
Symptoms of these infections include painful urination, abdominal pain, and unusual foul discharge from the vagina or penis, but many people do not have symptoms at all, especially in the case of chlamydia. Still, if untreated, these infections can induce in women pelvic inflammatory disease, sterility, and pregnancy complications like low-birth-weight babies, premature birth, spontaneous aborts and severe newborn infections. Men, too, can turn sterile.
Treatment is made with antibiotics, but many of those infected don't even know they got the infection. This investigation shows that two out of every 100 (2.2%) American adolescents and under 40 adults are infected with chlamydia and about one in 400 (0.24%) has clap.
The under 40 category (including adolescents) counted for the highest rate for these infections, and 50 % of those with gonorrhea also had chlamydia.
The infections' prevalence was similar in both sexes, but over four times higher for African-Americans than for whites (6.4% vs. 1.5%) in cases of chlamydia and even higher for clap. The chlamydia incidence was 17% for females who have been infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea within the previous year.
The researchers recommends annual chlamydia screenings for all sexually active women under 26 and women older than 26 at risk, like sex workers or those having a new sex partner or multiple partners, but also in case of pregnancy.
"The findings suggest that current chlamydia and gonorrhea screening recommendations are adequate, assuming they are implemented. If screening recommendations are properly applied they will be effective, but we know that this isn't happening consistently. This needs to be a focus of STD prevention." said Datta.