Of all the sexually transmitted infections, (STIs), Chlamydia is believed to be the
second commonest. Only Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has a higher prevalence. In the
UK, approximately 10% of all sexually active young people under 25 are believed to
In the United States, Chlamydia infection has been reported since 1984. While in
1996 just under half a million cases were reported, nine years later in 2005, this
had gone up by 98% to just over 970,000 recorded cases. It is also acknowledged that
Chlamydia is the second most common STI in the US and that these figures may be conservative.
In Japan, a study carried out among high school students in Hokkaido in 2004 found
11.4% of them testing positive for Chlamydia. This was thought to reflect the state
of prevalence of the infection among teens in the whole of Japan.
In some countries, there are established Chlamydia screening programs. Sweden has
had such a program for over 25 years. A similar scheme (The National Chlamydia Screening
Programme (NCSP). is in the process of being finalised for implementation in England.
Chlamydia infection symptoms
Probably the most challenging aspect of Chlamydia infection is that it tends to remain
symptom-free in the majority of cases. This is why it is sometimes called the ‘silent
infection’. The infection can, indeed, remain silent and undiscovered for years.
Between 70 and 90% of infected individuals will have no symptoms. This is partly
why, among the young sexually active age-group, this infection is passed on so easily.
When chlamydia infection is symptomatic, the features include
v Vaginal discharge
v Light bleeding after sexual intercourse
v A burning sensation when passing urine
v Pain during sexual intercourse
v Light vaginal bleeding between periods
v Lower abdominal pain or discomfort
Effects of Chlamydia infection
Chlamydia infection, especially when not detected early, can have devastating long
term consequences especially with regard to fertility. The inflammation inside the
fallopian tubes is known to cause such damage that the functional capability of the
tubes is seriously compromised. This might result in permanent scarring of the tubes
leading to an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and even complete inability to