Although understanding chlamydia incidence assists prevention and control, analyses based on diagnosed infections may distort the findings. Therefore, we determined incidence and examined risks in a birth cohort based on self-reports and serology.Methods
Self-reported chlamydia and behavior data were collected from a cohort born in New Zealand in 1972/3 on several occasions to age 38 years. Sera drawn at ages 26, 32, and 38 years were tested for antibodies to Chlamydia trachomatis Pgp3 antigen using a recently developed assay, more sensitive in women (82.9%) than men (54.4%). Chlamydia incidence by age period (first coitus to age 26, 26–32, and 32–38 years) was calculated combining self-reports and serostatus and risk factors investigated by Poisson regression.Results
By age 38 years, 32.7% of women and 20.9% of men had seroconverted or self-reported a diagnosis. The highest incidence rate was to age 26, 32.7 and 18.4 years per 1000 person-years for women and men, respectively. Incidence rates increased substantially with increasing number of sexual partners. After adjusting age period incidence rates for partner numbers, a relationship with age was not detected until 32 to 38 years, and then only for women.Conclusions
Chlamydia was common in this cohort by age 38, despite the moderate incidence rates by age period. The strongest risk factor for incident infection was the number of sexual partners. Age, up to 32 years, was not an independent factor after accounting for partner numbers, and then only for women. Behavior is more important than age when considering prevention strategies.