Chlamydia is a bacterial infection and is a type of sexually transmitted infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. It can be also caused by bacteria from the Chlamydiaceae family. C. trachomatis bacteria can only live in human cells. This bacterium can be passed on to other humans through:
- Anal sex
- Vaginal sex
- Oral sex
- Can be passed from a pregnant mother to her newborn
Although Chlamydia is not a life threatening disease and just causes inflammation and painful feeling in the private areas, it usually gets treated easily. The problem arises when Chlamydia is left untreated for a long period of time and the infected person is still exposed to other sexually transmitted infection due to lifestyle. Among the complications of Chlamydia are:
- Eye disease – one of the most serious side effects of untreated Chlamydia is Chlamydia conjunctivitis or trachoma. This is simply blindness, one of the main causes of blindness worldwide. This eye infection can be transferred when the hands touched the infected eye then touched the other.
- Reactive arthritis – untreated Chlamydia especially among men can lead to arthritis, conjunctivitis and urethral inflammation. In the US alone, at least 15,000 men suffer from reactive arthritis because of untreated Chlamydia infection. It can affect women too but this condition is more prevalent among men.
- Conjunctivitis among newborns. Newborns born to a Chlamydia infected mother can have Conjunctivitis as early as one week after birth. These newborns are also at high risk of having Chlamydia infection while pregnant women with Chlamydia infection are at high risk of having premature birth.
- lymphogranuloma venereum or lymph nodes infection - Untreated Chlamydia infection can lead nodes infection and lymphatics. This infection is manifested by rectal inflammation and having swollen lymph nodes.
If treated properly, Chlamydia can be cleared out in as fast as one year. 90% of the time though, it takes three years to completely clear out the body of Chlamydia bacteria. In order to treat a Chlamydia infection, suspecting patient must go through a test or screening. Among the tests that can be used to determine Chlamydia infections are:
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
- Transcription mediated amplification (TMA)
- DNA strand displacement amplification (SDA)
Who should seek screening?
Screening for Chlamydia infection is recommended to people with active sex life and is adventurous thus anal sex is a common thing to them. It is recommended to young people below the age of 25 with active sex life or those at risk. Screening for Chlamydia infection is a way for the government to prevent further complications of an infection that doesn’t have any symptoms. It also aims to reduce risk of infecting others and to make sure that those who have been cleared of Chlamydia bacteria remains clear after a period of time. In United Kingdom, the National Health Service (NHS) screen women below 25 years of age that are at risk of having Chlamydia infection in an effort to eradicate the said sexually transmitted infection by 2020.