Sexually Transmitted Diseases, also known as venereal diseases, have aroused global public health concerns. One notable characteristic of these diseases is their asymptomatic presentation which makes it very easy for them to skip being detected, a great feature to aid their spread unhindered.
Why Testing Is Crucial
Not only are venereal diseases contagious, they are costly to manage given the complications that arise when they are left untreated. Annually, the United States government spends an estimated 16 million US dollars on sexually transmitted diseases.
The percentage of persons at risk of suffering from STDs, who use facilities for screening for the early detection of the diseases, is not satisfactory since it is expected that all STD at-risk persons should undergo routine screenings to minimize the spread of the diseases and to avoid the complications which late diagnosis or non-treatment occasions.
Chlamydia currently ranks as one of the top three commonest sexually transmitted diseases in the States, with gonorrhea and syphilis in that category and mostly targets young women in the human population. The burden and risks conversant with chlamydial infection require that every sexually active woman under 25 and older women with multiple partners or who have had new sexual relationships be screened annually for chlamydia.
Even though chlamydia screening has improved in the US, many at-risk women are yet to be tested owing to poor awareness from healthcare providers within the localities or the reservations people have toward screening centers.
Why Chlamydia Remains Deadly
Chlamydia, as has been described as a sexually transmitted disease, is without noticeable symptoms. Detecting it early ensures that the infection is treated on time without any irreversible damage or complications. One of the problems with undetected chlamydia, apart from its deadly complications, is the extensive cost of treating and managing the ailment.
Untreated chlamydia in women can give rise to a condition where the reproductive organs are severely affected, this is known as a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID in turn, causes chronic pelvic pain, infertility, tubo-ovarian abscess, and ectopic pregnancy. Also, the disease continues to spread from the infected to others.
Many men do not show symptoms of chlamydia but complications in men include clinical cases of urethritis, inflammation of the prostate, and testicular inflammation. Alongside women, the CDC recommends annual screening for chlamydia in men who have sex with other men.
Pregnant women infected with chlamydia can spread the disease to their babies during delivery. Also, these women can undergo preterm labor due to premature rupturing of membranes, give birth to low birth weight babies, or experience stillbirths. All these can happen where untreated chlamydia festers. Consequently, untreated babies develop pneumonia and the inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eyes.
What Do the Experts Say?
It is for these reasons described above that the United States Preventive Services Task Force placed chlamydia screening as one of the eight very effective cost-maximizing clinical preventive services currently being delivered to less than 50% of the required number of persons it was designed for nationally.
According to the CDC also, approximately 15 million who are eligible for the screening, treatment, and prevention counseling services mandated by the Preventive Health Amendments act of 1992 are yet to be reached by the agency's Infertility Preventive Program. The National Partnership for Women and Families suggests that chlamydia screening, when compared with no screening, prevents 11% to 42% of all pelvic inflammatory diseases in women.
Cost Of Treating PID and Associated Complications
Based on the 2013-2014 data from NHANES, an estimated 2.5 million women between 18 and 44 years of age in the United States have been diagnosed with the lifelong pelvic inflammatory disease with each case of the disease costing about 3,202 US dollars in treatment.
Complications of PID include infertility. A 1994 study report published by P.J. Neumann and his colleagues stated that the cost of a successful delivery following an In-Vitro Fertilization underwent as a measure to combat infertility from PID, ranged from 67,000 US dollars for the first cycle, to 114,000 US dollars by the sixth cycle. Presently, the first cycle of IVF, on the average, costs 12,000 dollars before medication, which adds an addition of money between 3,000 and 5,000 dollars.
In 1998, an average of 166 million dollars was expended in the medical treatment of chronic pelvic pain caused by PID. In the same year, an estimated 295 million dollars was spent on ectopic pregnancies and 360 million for infertility associated with PID. 843 dollars per case was spent in 1998 on the care of acute PID only, but not for the diagnosis and treatment of its complications.
As a way of concluding on the implications of not screening and treating for chlamydia, there is no better emphasis to be laid on routine screening for persons whose sexual behavior puts them at a risk of contracting the disease. This makes it safer to handle the disease effectively with no cutthroat cost and of course, lifetime damages.