Health Care Professionals Can Help Prevent Chlamydia Infections

JULY 08, 2019
Monique F. Miller, PharmD Candidate
Chlamydia affects as many as 131 million people worldwide each year, which equates to about 1.7% of the global population. According to the CDC, chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Due to the large number of people affected, chlamydia has become a global health concern.

Acknowledging the tremendous burden imposed by the common infection, an author from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has published a comprehensive review in the journal Workplace Health and Safety. In it, she stresses that talking about chlamydia may be difficult, but every member of the health care team needs to increase patient awareness.

Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis, and is transmitted through various routes such as vaginal, anal, and oral sex.1

Risk factors for this infection include multiple sex partners, history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), presence of another STI, and lack of barrier contraception.2 Most infected individuals are asymptomatic, but chlamydia may cause urethritis and epididymitis in men, and cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease in women.3 

To treat chlamydia, prescribers encourage expedited partner therapy, treating both patients and their sexual partners. Recommended medications include a single dose of azithromycin and 7 days of doxycycline.

Health care professionals, including pharmacists, can help promote health awareness of this infection and prevention strategies involved. They can also recommend annual screening to patients they believe are at increased risk, including the following1:
  • Sexually active women age 25 years and younger
  • Women older than age 25 years that are at high risk
  • Males having sex with other males
  • Having multiple sex partners

Health care professionals should also inform their patients about prevention strategies including2:
  • Proper use of barrier contraception (condoms)
  • Limit number of sex partners

If receiving treatment for chlamydia, patients should also be counseled to abstain from sexual activity for 7 days after the completion of treatment. This will prevent spread of infection to partners.
 

Monique F. Miller is a 2020 PharmD candidate at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

References
  1. Phillips JA. Chlamydia infections. Workplace Health Saf. 2019 Jun 10:2165079919853590. doi: 10.1177/2165079919853590. [Epub ahead of print].
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Chlamydia. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/hedis.htm. Accessed June 22, 2019.
  3. Malhotra, Meenakshi et al. Genital chlamydia trachomatis: an update. Indian J Med Res.2013:138(3):303-316.


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