September 15, 2003
Au said young people should be aware of chlamydia, which infects the reproductive organs including the cervix in women and urethra in men. People can contract it through unprotected sex and through contact with semen, vaginal fluid or discharge. Symptoms can include pain during urination or intercourse, increased discharge from the vagina and watery discharge from the penis. It can cause sterility for men, and in women can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy. Oral antibiotics can cure chlamydia but do not prevent reinfections.
People ages 20-24 have the highest infection rate of any population in Los Angeles County, followed by teens ages 15-19, according to a 2001 county health report.
"Many students are very concerned and get tested for HIV, and that's fine," said Dr. Lawrence Neinstein, executive director of the University Park Health Center. "But their risk of HIV infection ... is much lower than their risk of chlamydia."
"I haven't heard of it," said Annie Rani, a graduate student in the USC professional writing program. "I've heard a lot about AIDS and STDs."
Although students do not need a doctor's examination to get tested for chlamydia, Neinstein recommended that they get one. Women can be tested during a pelvic exam. For men, a doctor can swab their urethra. LADHS recommends that sexually active persons under 25 get tested for chlamydia every six months to a year.