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Chlamydia trachomatis screening in young women

Baraitser, Paulaa; Alexander, Sarahb; Sheringham, Jessicac

Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology:
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e32834ac776
Adolescent and pediatric gynecology: Edited by Paula J. Adams Hillard

Purpose of review: As the number of chlamydia screening programmes implemented worldwide increases, we summarize current understanding of the epidemiology, natural history, and management of chlamydia, focusing on screening in young women.

Recent findings: Chlamydia diagnoses continue to rise, with young women at high risk. Recently published trials show that the risk of serious reproductive health outcomes is lower than previously thought. They illustrate that significant barriers – both practical and cultural – remain to engaging young people and health professionals in routine testing for sexually transmitted infections. Chlamydia control efforts have driven innovative approaches to testing including new approaches to engaging young people in discussions of sexual health and screening accessed via the Internet.

Summary: Chlamydia is highly prevalent among young women and may cause serious reproductive sequelae. Gaps in our knowledge of the epidemiology, natural history and immunology of this organism continue to hamper efforts to control it. Sexual health promotion and screening of young people remain the mainstay of population control, although there is as yet no strong evidence of health screening benefits. Control efforts will require new strategies to engage young people and health professionals to normalize sexual health testing.

Author Information

aEnglish National Chlamydia Screening Programme, Health Protection Agency

bSexually Transmitted Bacteria Reference Laboratory, Health Protection Agency

cHealthcare Evaluation Group, Department Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL, Torrington Place, London, UK

Correspondence to Paula Baraitser, Medical Advisor, English National Chlamydia Screening Programme, Health Protection Services – Colindale, Health Protection Agency, 61 Colindale Avenue, NW9 5EQ London, UK Tel: +44 752 563 0865; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.