Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Chlamydia trachomatis is often called "the silent epidemic" because infections are common yet many people do not realize that they are infected. This bacterial disease is easily cured with antibiotics but can have serious health consequences if left untreated.

There are more than 20 known sexually transmitted diseases. Some of them will cause symptoms that should be brought to the attention of your doctor immediately. However, others may be "silent" - a person could have the disease but might not notice any symptoms of the infection. Therefore, it is important to be tested for STDs if you are sexually active. Besides chlamydia, other common STDs are listed below.

Gonorrhea. This bacterial infection at first may cause a slight discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus. However, if the infection is not treated, it can lead to sterility and other complications. Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics.

Syphilis. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be easily missed. The first symptom is a painless blister or sore that will disappear on its own. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, the disease can spread throughout your body over the course of many years and cause considerable organ damage.

Trichomonas. Trichomonas vaginalis is a microscopic parasite that may or may not cause symptoms. Treatment is available.

Human papillomavirus (HPV). One of the most common STDs in the United States, this virus can infect the genital area, causing genital warts (condyloma), and has been associated with cervical cancer. Early detection can limit the risk of cancer.

Genital herpes. This virus causes recurrent, periodic outbreaks of sores in the genital region and remains in your body for life. However, there are anti-viral therapies available that can shorten the duration of symptoms.

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. These are viral infections that can be transmitted through sexual contact. Hepatitis B and C affect the liver and can severely damage it. Treatment with interferon is available, but this drug therapy may have serious side effects.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is associated with AIDS. This virus attacks and destroys certain white blood cells (T-helper lymphocytes) that are involved in the immune system. As the number of these cells is reduced, the ability of your body to fight off infections also decreases. This eventually results in death. Although there is no cure, early detection allows for treatment with anti-viral therapies that can help to prolong life.

For any sexually transmitted disease, an infected person should inform their recent sexual partner(s) so that they may be treated as well. In some states, public health workers will contact those with recently-reported gonorrhea or chlamydia infections to be sure that they were treated and to get the names of their sexual partner(s) to notify them to get tested and treated.

Related Pages
On This Site
Tests: Chlamydia
Screening: Teens (13-18), Young Adults (19-29), Adults (30-49), Adults (50 and up)
In the News: Rapid Test Screens for Chlamydial Infections (2008), New Recommendations for Chlamydia Screening (2001)