Hopkins Researchers Urge Regular Chlamydia Testing For All Sexually Active Teenage Women

August 12, 1998

All sexually active adolescent females should be tested by family doctors not once but twice a year for chlamydia infection, a significant preventable cause of pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women in the United States, say Johns Hopkins researchers.

Because the sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis usually presents no obvious symptoms, the researchers say failure to test and treat with antibiotics during routine checkups is contributing to "the most important preventable cause" of infertility.

"Current guidelines for adolescent primary care call for yearly screenings, but that's not enough," says Gale Burstein, M.D., M.P.H. "Regardless of whether they've previously had sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, or whether they've had a new sex partner or use condoms, these sexually active teenagers need more frequent testing."

In a study of 3,202 sexually active females age 12 through 19 who visited family planning, STD or school-based clinics in Baltimore, Md., 14-year-olds had the highest rate of infection with C. trachomatis.

Although most of the individuals were African-American, other, smaller studies have shown that white teenage females also have high rates of chlamydia, according to Burstein. "Infection rates among this group are generally above 5 to 10 percent in the populations that have been studied," she says.

"We couldn't predict which females in our study would be at increased risk for chlamydia just because they didn't use condoms consistently, or because they had a new sexual partner, or even because they previously had a sexually transmitted disease," says Burstein, a research fellow and adolescent medicine specialist at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "The only risk factor we found for chlamydia infection was being a teenager."

The Hopkins team also found they couldn't predict whether a female was infected just by determining whether she had symptoms, because chlamydia can occur as a "silent" infection without any obvious signs.

Burstein is the lead author of the study, which appears in the Aug. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine STD Prevention Fellowship, and by the National Institutes of Health, used a new test that let researchers amplify chlamydia DNA in urine, eliminating the need for cervical samples, according to Thomas C. Quinn, professor of medicine and senior author of the paper.

"The ease of this procedure allows more women to be screened for chlamydia without a pelvic exam," he says. "And it lets us detect more infections even in women with silent--or asymptomatic--infections. Early detection can mean early treatment, which reduces complications and further spread of the infection."

The team found the organism in 771 females (24.1 percent) during their first visit to a clinic and in 299 (13.9 percent) during a repeat visit. A total of 933 (29.1 percent) had at least one positive test whether on their first visit to a clinic or on subsequent visits. The rate of infection was highest among 14-year-olds, with 63 of 229 (27.5 percent) who were screened testing positive.

"Using highly sensitive, urine-based DNA tests, we found that greater than fifty percent of those adolescent females who were infected tested positive for chlamydia within six to seven months into the study," says Burstein.

Other authors of the study include Charlotte A. Gaydos, Marie Diener-West, M. Rene Howell, and Jonathan M. Zenilman.

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' news releases are available on a PRE-EMBARGOED basis on EurekAlert at http://www.eurekalert.org, Newswise at http://www.newswise.com and from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs' direct e-mail news release service. To enroll, call (410) 955-4288 or send e-mail to bsimpkins@jhmi.edu.

On a POST-EMBARGOED basis find them at http://hopkins.med.jhu.edu, Quadnet at http://www.quad-net.com and ScienceDaily at http://www.sciencedaily.com.
-end-


Johns Hopkins Medicine

Related Chlamydia Articles from Brightsurf:

Chlamydia: Greedy for glutamine
If chlamydiae want to multiply in a human cell, the first thing they need is a lot of glutamine.

Chlamydia build their own entrance into human cells
Chlamydia, a type of pathogenic bacteria, need to penetrate human cells in order to multiply.

Targeted gene modification in animal pathogenic chlamydia
Researchers at Umeå University (Sweden), in collaboration with researchers at the University of Maryland and Duke University (USA), now for the first time successfully performed targeted gene mutation in the zoonotic pathogen Chlamydia caviae.

How Chlamydia gain access to human cells
Infection biologists at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and the University of Freiburg have found out how the LIPP protein discovered in Düsseldorf helps Chlamydia to infect human cells.

Researchers discover how chlamydia takes up new DNA from host
A recent paper by a team of molecular biologists headquartered at the University of Kansas pinpointed a gene that allows chlamydia to take up DNA from its host environment.

Chlamydia in testicular tissue linked to male infertility
The potential impact of undiagnosed sexually transmitted chlamydia infection on men's fertility has been highlighted in a study led by scientists at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), which for the first time found chlamydia in the testicular tissue biopsies of infertile men whose infertility had no identified cause.

New rapid DNA test to diagnose chlamydia infection in koalas
A new DNA test to detect chlamydia infection in koalas which gives on-the-spot results within 30 minutes has been developed in a collaboration between researchers in Brisbane, Australia.

Researchers identify how vaginal microbiome can elicit resistance to chlamydia
The vaginal microbiome is believed to protect women against Chlamydia trachomatis, the etiological agent of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in developed countries.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: First ever phase 1 trial of genital chlamydia vaccine finds it is safe and provokes immune response
The first ever chlamydia vaccine to reach phase 1 clinical trial has been found to be safe and able to provoke an immune response, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

Last chlamydia-free koala population may safeguard future of species
The last, large, isolated, healthy chlamydia-free population of koalas in Australia may have been identified on Kangaroo Island, said Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at the University of Adelaide.

Read More: Chlamydia News and Chlamydia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.