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Am I the only person who remembers those silly “Your Body is Changing” videos shown back in middle school? I recall sitting in a dark classroom with kids of my same gender and having intensely awkward conversations with elderly female teachers about “girl problems.” Sadly, the one thing I don't remember from schooling is talk of STDs or how to prevent them. Luckily though, I was educated enough otherwise to avoid them, but other people unfortunately missed out on that very important information that could keep them healthy, and many are walking around completely unaware that they're affected.
According to Counsel & Heal, many people who contract chlamydia are currently undiagnosed. A recent report estimates that 1.8 million folks have caught the STD, but only about 1.4 million of them are actually aware of it. The research was carried out by scientists at the National Health and Nutrition Examination between the years 2007 to 2012. They relied on surveys to help confirm their data and revealed the disparity between reports and actual cases.
While only 1.7% of the entire population between the ages of 14 and 19 have chlamydia, it's disproportionately affecting different groups. When compared with men in the same age group, girls are much more likely to have chlamydia that goes undetected. In fact, a whopping 6.4% of young girls between the ages of 14 and 19 have the STD. Comparing this to 2.4% in the boys, it seems that something is definitely going wrong here. The study also found a racial difference too, as 18.6% of African American girls report having the STD compared to just 3.2% of white girls. Perhaps this indicates a problem not only between boys and girls, but how different groups educate and talk about STDs.
So, that was a lot of numbers, I'll admit that, but it's important data. The research team recommends that all girls who are sexually active get screened for the symptom-free STD. The quicker cases are detected, the sooner they can get well and stop spreading the infection. According to the CDC, an untreated infection in girls can lead to difficulties having children in the future or it can cause ectopic pregnancy. It can even be passed from mother to child if the mother has chlamydia when she is pregnant. While many folks, those in my hometown included, choose to ignore the fact that children are sexually active, it seems like educating them or providing access to birth control methods may prevent them from getting ill.
I hope that with more education and more doctors realizing the importance of testing, we can reduce the number of people getting infected in the first place. In a modern country in a modern time, there really isn't any reason that a preventable condition is spreading so rapidly and affecting so many young lives. And to everyone out there, keep yourselves healthy and safe and don't hesitate to get checked out if you need to. You could be helping yourself and those that you care about, too.