To describe the epidemiology of prevalent and incident chlamydia infection in order to assess the appropriate interval for chlamydia screening; and to identify risk factors predictive of infection and repeat infections.
Prospective longitudinal study of a consecutive sample of 3860 sexually active females aged 12-60 years tested for C. trachomatis by polymerase chain reaction in Baltimore City clinics during 11,904 patient visits over a 33 month period.
Chlamydia prevalence, incidence, and frequency to diagnosis of infection varied by age. Among 2073 females < 25 years, chlamydia infection was found in 31.2%. The median times to first and repeat incident infections were 7.0 months and 7.6 months, respectively. Among 1787 females > or = 25 years, chlamydia infection was found in 9.6%. Median times to first and repeat incident infections were 13.8 months and 11.0 months, respectively. Age < 25 years yielded the highest risk of infection.
Since a high burden of chlamydia was found among mostly asymptomatic females < 25 years in a spectrum of clinical settings, we recommend chlamydia screening for all sexually active females < 25 years at least twice yearly.
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