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For most people, when they hear the word STD they may immediately think of HIV or AIDS without realizing there are a host of other types of diseases that can be transmitted sexually, some of which are on the rise in various parts of the country.
One of those diseases is chlamydia, which can be transferred through vaginal, anal and oral sex, as well as passed on from a mother to her child. If the infection is left undetected, it can lead to serious health problems such as infertility. Because the symptoms of chlamydia can be very mild, it's been often called the "silent disease" among health officials.
Yet, despite being a very treatable, and in some cases curable, condition, some Americans are not bothering to get a chlamydia test.
"[W]e want sexually active young women to understand that a simple urine test now may make an important difference in their reproductive health in the future," said Dr. Corinne M. Husten, interim president of Partnership for Prevention.
According to a report published in the April 17 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the screening rate for chlamydia in 2007 was at 41.6 percent, which was lower when compared to the rate for cervical cancer (81.7 percent).
"Because chlamydia is easily diagnosed and treated, many of the severe health consequences of chlamydia are preventable," said John M. Douglas, Jr., M.D., director of CDC's division of STD prevention. "Health care providers, educators and public health professionals must do much more to let young, sexually active women know how important it is that they be tested for chlamydia every year. It is also imperative that health care providers make screening a routine part of their medical practice."
The CDC recommends women who are 25 years old or younger get an annual screening for chlamydia as well as others who are at a high risk for the disease. However, with news that rates of the sexually transmitted infection are rising in places like Minnesota and New Hampshire, one has to wonder why the message isn't getting across to a younger audience.
A new report from the Minnesota Department of Health found a 7 percent increase of reported chlamydia cases last year, which officials called an "ongoing trend," the Saint Paul Legal Ledger reports. Approximately 70 percent of all chlamydia cases were in teens and young adults aged 15 to 24.
"What surprised us with the 2008 chlamydia data was the sudden and large increase in cases among males," Peter Carr, director of the STD and HIV section of the health department, said. "We saw a 13 percent increase among 15- to 24-year-old males compared to the 2007 report."
In New Hampshire, the state's department of health also found a rise in chlamydia cases, though suggested that the increase may be because of more awareness of the disease, which led to more people getting an STD test, the Nashua Telegraph reports.
In an effort to reach that demographic, some organizations have made a push to raise awareness about STD testing, especially since April is National STD Awareness.
MTV, along with the Kaiser Family Foundation, launched a new initiative called GYT: Get Yourself Tested, a campaign to encourage people under the age of 25 to get an STD test. The campaign also aims to educate people about the benefits of testing early and often for infections that can be transferred sexually.
According to the music channel, "half of all sexually active people under 25 have an STD and nearly 10 million 19 to 24-year-olds are infected with a new STD every year."
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