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More chlamydia cases than ever
By TRISH McMAHON
The number of people in Washington infected with chlamydia has reached an all-time high.
The state Department of Health reports that 16,796 people more than a quarter of them in King County were diagnosed in 2003 with chlamydia. A reportable infection since 1988, it is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease with approximately 3 million new infections each year nationally.
Based on reports, chlamydia is more prevalent in females, although there is a question regarding under-reportage in males. It increases ones risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
According to the state health department, chlamydia is a serious health threat to all sexually active people, especially those 25 and younger. Sexually active women in this age range are recommended to be tested for chlamydia yearly.
The increase in chlamydia has been seen nationwide. Katherine Grudgel of STD/TB Services said possible explanations for the increase in chlamydia cases are increased testing of at-risk people and having better tests to detect infection. She added that a less easily documented reason is people taking greater risks in sexual activity.
The health department is trying to raise awareness about chlamydia by motivating people to get tested. Comprehensive screening and treatment, timely identification and treatment of infected partners have significantly reduced the prevalence of chlamydia. If done early, complications may also be prevented, officials said. Such complications include pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and pneumonia passed to an infant from an infected mother.
Testing has become easier in recent years; urine tests can be performed on both men and women.
After a decline in the mid-1990s, reported cases in Washington have steadily increased since 1996. The annual state report on STD (sexually transmitted disease) morbidity reports that largest number of chlamydia cases in 2003 was reported by King County, with 5,169 cases. King County also reported the highest number of individual male cases (1,734) and female cases (3,435).
The same report states the highest male incidence rate was reported for Pierce County (203 per 100,000 persons) and the highest female incidence rate was Yakima County (668 per 100,000 persons).
Due to under-reportage and the varying size of populations in counties, comparisons are difficult and the reported numbers are conservative, according to officials.
The peak incidence rate for females was among 15-to-19-year-olds (2,273 per 100,000 persons), and for males, 20 to 24 years old (768 per 100,000).
To be tested and/or treated for an STD, people should contact their healthcare provider or call (800) 272-2437, officials said. More information is available at http://www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/STD/facility.htm
News intern Trish McMahon: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Annual State Report STD Morbidity (http://www.doh.wa/gov/cfh/STD/morbidity2003/2003STDMorbReport.pdf)
STD Diagnostic & Treatment Facilities for King County
(includes Public Health for Seattle & King County and Planned Parenthood of Western Washington locations)
Planned Parenthood Bellevue (425) 747-1050
Public Health Eastgate (206) 296-4940
Public Health Northshore (206) 296-9787
Planned Parenthood Federal Way (253)
Public Health Federal Way (206)
Planned Parenthood Kenmore (425) 482-1122
Planned Parenthood Kent Valley
Public Health Kent Teen Clinic
Public Health Renton (206) 296-4700