Sustained High Prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis Infections in Female Army Recruits


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Abstract

BackgroundChlamydia trachomatis infections are prevalent among young sexually active females, have serious sequelae, and are mostly asymptomatic. Screening and treatment of infected females has been demonstrated to prevent sequelae such as pelvic inflammatory disease.GoalTo assess prevalence and risk factors for chlamydia infection in US Army female recruits, whether these changed over time, and to examine variables contributing to any observed patterns.Study DesignPrevalence study of 23,010 non–healthcare-seeking female Army recruits enrolled in a chlamydia screening program at Fort Jackson, SC, from January 1996 through June 1999. Each of the 4-year cohorts was examined separately for prevalence and risk factors.Main Outcome MeasuresUrine-based testing for C trachomatis by ligase chain reaction was used to determine prevalence, and questionnaires were used to collect demographic and risk information. State home of record for each recruit was transformed into Public Health reporting region: West, Midwest, South, Northeast, and Territories.ResultsPrevalence for all years was 9.51%, but a progressive increase from 8.51% to 9.92% occurred over the course of study (P = 0.018). The proportion of individuals reporting specific risk factors during the 90 days preceding the study generally decreased over time. In a regression model, significant risk factors for infection included black race, age 25 years or younger, home-of-record from the South, being screened during years 3 and 4 of the study, more than one sex partner, a new sex partner, and history of any sexually transmitted disease. Condom use was protective. In another model controlling for age and home-of-record from the South, being screened in years 2, 3, and 4 of the study were significantly predictive for being chlamydia positive.ConclusionA high and slightly increasing prevalence of C trachomatis infection was observed among young females entering the military over 4 consecutive years. Young age, black race, home-of-record from the South, more than one sex partner, a new sex partner, condom use, and a history of having a sexually transmitted disease were correlates of chlamydia infection. Sustained high rates of C trachomatis infection in this population provide clear justification for a chlamydia control program for young women entering the Army consisting of screening at entry on the basis of age and possibly home-of-record together with continued periodic rescreening.SummaryA study of 23,010 female Army recruits demonstrated that a high prevalence of C trachomatis was sustained during 4 years of observation. Year of study, young age, and being from the South were significant predictors of infection.

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