Drop in Chlamydia Testing Due to New Pap Test Guidelines

Chlamydia might be a simple bacterial infection, but chlamydia is one of the most potentially harmful STDs, especially for women. The infection often goes unnoticed and untreated due to its asymptomatic nature. When left untreated it can lead to more serious consequences, most notably infertility. A new study at the University of Michigan has found that the rate of screening for chlamydia among young women, namely 15-21 year olds, has dropped dramatically. This dramatic drop in testing rates is being attributed to a change in national guidelines for PAP testing that took place in 2009.

In 2009, the guidelines for PAP testing were adjusted to no longer recommend yearly PAP testing for young women under the age of 21 as some research had shown that it was not beneficial. Many physicians were previously coupling chlamydia screenings with annual PAP tests, but as the amount of PAP tests declined they found that young women were not seeking to make separate appointments for the purpose of chlamydia screening. As a result, these young women who may have had their infections caught and treated as part of their yearly PAP testing are no longer receiving that treatment.

For young women in the demographics where yearly PAP testing is not recommended, it is particularly important to be sure to schedule yearly comprehensive STD screenings to ensure possible asymptomatic infections are not allowed to advance or do further damage.