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Reducing the Number of People Infected with Chlamydia

April 28, 2010

Tacoma-Pierce County ? Efforts to reduce levels of Chlamydia by Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department staff has begun to pay off. For the second year in a row, the percent of people testing positive declined. However, the rate of infection is still high. Pierce County has the second highest rate of reported cases in the state, with more than 3,000 cases reported in 2009.

The Health Department began a serious, multi-faceted response to the Chlamydia epidemic in Pierce County in 2008. Staff have increased interviews of people with Chlamydia, which means better follow-up and treatment of people potentially exposed. In 2007, public health staff interviewed 849 individuals who tested positive for Chlamydia. In 2008, they interviewed 1,706 people. In 2009, they completed 2,485 interviews.

During the past two years, Health Department staff have boosted the number of people who receive "expedited partner treatment." The expedited partner treatment program allows the infected individual to provide a prescription or actual medication to their sexual partners without the partners being tested for Chlamydia. This reduces the number of people who are probably infected but do not obtain treatment by avoiding seeing a medical provider. In 2007, 293 partners were treated. By the end of 2009, that number rose to 2,125.

Increases in both the interviews and partner treatments occurred because of enhanced connection to medical providers, instituted by the Health Department to try to control this epidemic.

In addition, Health Department staff have provided more information to high school and college students about how to avoid infection and how important it is to get tested if the students are between 15 and 24 years old and sexually active.

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection transmitted through sex. Without treatment, some women develop serious health consequences including pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. It is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease in Pierce County. Approximately 80% of infected people do not experience symptoms and therefore can pass it on to their sexual partners. For the few who do have symptoms, warning signs include discharge and/or burning with urination for men and discharge for women.

Testing is simple, usually a urine sample or vaginal swab. Treatment is also easy, usually consisting of a single pill. Treatment does not provide immunity from re-infection and anyone treated should ensure their partners are not infected before participating in sex with them.

Additional information about Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases can be found on the Health Departments website:

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