RACE AND SEXUAL INFECTIONS
Study shows higher-than-expected rates of chlamydia
in young US adults
CHICAGO (AFP) - A surprisingly large number of young
Americans are infected with the bacteria that causes the
sexually transmitted disease known as chlamydia, according
to a study.
One in 25 young Americans carry the organism that causes
the disease, and the rate of infection is particularly high among
young blacks and in the southern United States, researchers said.
The findings are based on the most comprehensive study of the
prevalence of chlamydia among Americans to date, and support
previous research that points to sharp regional differences in the
rate of infection.
In fact, the authors said the data may explain why black women
are at greater risk for chlamydia-related complications, such as
ectopic pregnancies, and childbirth-related death.
The infection was six times greater in young black adults than
in young whites, according to the study of more than 12,000
adults with an average age of 22.
Almost 14 percent of young black women and more than 11
percent of black men of comparable ages carried the bug.
The rates of infection were also higher among Native Americans
and Latinos than whites, according to the study in the Journal of
the American Medical Association.
"The marked differences in these sexually transmitted infections
across racial and ethnic groups are disturbing," said lead author
William Miller, assistant professor of medicine at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
People infected with the bacteria that causes chlamydia often
exhibit no symptoms, but the disease can have serious conse-
quences for a woman's reproductive health and can result in
pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility
Public health guidelines typically call for young women to be
tested for the disease during clinical visits, but the results of
the study suggest that approach is "inadequate," Miller said.
"Asymptomatic young adult men clearly account for a large
reservoir of infection in the general population, but screening
recommendations have largely excluded men," Miller said.