A surge in chlamydia infections is causing concern. Lauderdale Center for Student Health & Counseling has seen an increase in chlamydia diagnoses this academic year. According to Dr. Steven A. Radi of Lauderdale, chlamydia “is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection diagnosed in the general population.”
“Chlamydia commonly causes no symptoms, and therefore may be transmitted without the person being aware of the infection,” Radi wrote in an email to The Lamron. “It ‘may’ cause discomfort with urination in women and a vaginal discharge, and pain with urination and a penile discharge in men. But being infected—and not having symptoms—is a serious issue with chlamydia for women, since untreated infection is associated with the complication of infertility.”
“I personally think there is a huge misconception among college students about STDs because they believe that [STIs] will result in abnormal symptoms,” psychology major and pre-health senior Marylen Santos said. “It’s possible that college students continue to be disproportionally affected because often enough [STIs], such as chlamydia, don’t show symptoms.”
Biology major senior James Mattson added that this problem may have systemic roots. “In the United States, we have poor sexual education,” he said. “They’ve done a lot of studies that compare students in other countries that are comparable, and they find that the U.S. has a less comprehensive program and adolescents especially are not obtaining the correct information from the right sources.”
According to Radi, chlamydia can decrease fertility in women—regardless of whether or not a woman develops pelvic inflammatory disease, a “more severe” infection that causes abdominal pain and a fever. “In spite of the fact that chlamydia infections are curable with antibiotics, chlamydia is not a trivial disease because of its possible effects on future female fertility,” Radi wrote.
“Prevention and early detection are critical in the fight against chlamydia,” he continued. “The consistent use of condoms and other barriers—such as dental dams—with all types of sexual contact will prevent chlamydia infections. The United States Preventive Services Task Force—the expert panel that makes recommendations regarding disease screening—strongly recommends that all women under the age of 25 who are sexually active be screened yearly for chlamydia infections.”
Radi added that chlamydia screenings are done through a urine sample, which costs $30 at Lauderdale if not covered by a student’s insurance.
“I think that college is a time that many students hold true to the invincibility complex—so they’re more impulsive,” Santos said. “Students should definitely be more cautious about their health and take advantage of our campus’ health services and get tested.”
Mattson noted that Lauderdale could do a lot to prevent the spread of chlamydia. “I think they should … encourage the physicians and the nurses and [physician’s assistants] that work at Lauderdale to initiate the conversation,” he said. “[They should] create a safe and nonjudgmental environment, because I feel like people—especially people who may have an [STI]—don’t seek treatment right away because they feel like they’ll be judged or looked down upon.”
News Editor Emma Bixler contributed reporting to this article.