How to control chlamydia – an ECDC guidance for Europe
They are young and mostly female: with more than 3.2 million cases between 2005 and 2014, chlamydia remains the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) across Europe. The updated ECDC guidance on chlamydia control in Europe makes the case for national chlamydia control strategies in the EU Member States and shows ways to develop, implement or improve national or local control activities.
Rates of chlamydia infection have increased 5% between 2010 and 2014. Young people are particularly affected by this STI with two thirds (63%) of the 396 000 reported cases in 2014 diagnosed among 15 to 24-year-olds. As chlamydia infection often shows no symptoms, the reported numbers underestimate the true picture. Across Europe, chlamydia is the only STI which is reported more frequently in women than men. This might be influenced by the fact that women are generally tested more often than men because of the greater risk of complications, which include pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
“Chlamydia is straightforward to diagnose and can be effectively treated with antibiotics – but it may also irreversibly damage a woman's reproductive organs. There is no available vaccine and after treatment you can get re-infected if you do not take precautions”, stresses ECDC Acting Director Andrea Ammon. The disease can be controlled through prevention and effective treatment of those infected and their partners.
Primary prevention at core of STI control
“We looked at the advances in knowledge since the publication of our last guidance in 2009 and propose that every country further develop their national strategies or plans for the control of STI, including chlamydia”, explains Ammon.
“Good primary prevention, like health and sex education or condom promotion and distribution, is at the core of STI control. Widespread opportunistic testing or a screening programme should be considered once effective primary prevention activities and case management strategies are in place. And only if sufficient resources are available including for monitoring and evaluation of the programme.”
The latest available data on all five STI under EU surveillance (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, congenital syphilis and lymphogranuloma venereum) are now available in the interactive ECDC Surveillance Atlas of Infectious Diseases.
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