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Unreliable Alabama Testing Led to Low Chlamydia Rates in 2004

November 10, 2005

CDC figures released Tuesday show a decrease in Alabama's chlamydia cases, from 14,209 in 2003 to 13,314 in 2004. But state health officials said Wednesday that chlamydia cases are actually increasing, and they said the reported decrease was the result of unreliable testing procedures in Alabama.

Alabama was the last state to adopt the new urine-based chlamydia test, which was deployed statewide Oct. 1, said Maxie Fleming, STD Division director at the Alabama Department of Public Health. Already, the highly sensitive test has revealed a 50 percent increase over past figures, and "our rates are going to go up more," Fleming said.

"We're really on par with the rest of the country for having increased chlamydia rates," said Fleming.

Edward Hook, director of the STD Control Program for the Jefferson County Department of Health and a University of Alabama-Birmingham professor, said the rising rates indicate chlamydia control efforts are working. "The first sign of success is increasing rates," said Hook. "It means we are detecting [chlamydia] more than before. A year from now, the rates will be even higher."

The CDC report found that rates of gonorrhea and syphilis are rising in Alabama. The state had 182.3 gonorrhea cases for every 100,000 people, compared to the national rate of 113.5 cases per 100,000. Similar to the rest of the country, Alabama saw cases of syphilis spike last year. For every 100,000 people, the state had 3.7 cases, an increase of 1.2 cases from 2003.

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Excerpted from:
Associated Press
11.09.2005; Holly Lang

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