The third in this series of articles on sexual health discusses issues that need to be addressed before a national screening program for chlamydia can be implemented.
The silent epidemic
In 2004, over 35,000 cases of genital chlamydial infection were notified in Australia, yet this probably represents only a fraction of the actual prevalence of infection in the population. About 90% of genital infections from Chlamydia trachomatis do not result in symptoms, so most infected individuals – both men and women – have little cause to attend health services. Consequently, their chlamydia remains undiagnosed, leading to further transmission of infection and morbidity. Many women with pelvic inflammatory disease have few symptoms, and most women with tubal infertility are unaware of any prior history of pelvic inflammatory disease. The clinical manifestations and complications arising from chlamydial infection are shown in Table 1.