Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which can affect those that are sexually active, which is to say that it can affect a very large range in age groups through-out the population. It is very interesting in that chlamydia is the most oft reported STI in the United States (Breguet, 2007) with over three million new cases each year (Silverstein & Silverstein-Nunn, 2006). Another very interesting fact is that chlamydia is known as a “silent” disease. That is to say that often times in both men and women there are no symptoms of infection (Ross, 2008). In fact as many as 85% of women and 40% of men who are currently infected are without symptoms (Silverstein, Silverstein, & Silverstein-Nunn, 2006). This can cause severe medical problems later on down the road. This paper will examine what chlamydia actually is, how it is spread and treated, and some of the risk factors associated with acquiring it. Natural History of Chlamydia
Chlamydia trachomatis was first discovered in 1907 and was thought to be a virus, but later in the 1960s it was found to be a bacterium (Breguet, 2007). As mentioned in the introduction it can infect only those who are sexually active as this is the only way it is transmitted from one person to another. However, vaginal intercourse is not its exclusive means of transmission. A person may become infected via oral or anal intercourse (Dougherty, 2010) and perhaps it is thought by sex toys as well (Marr, 2007).
Chlamydia does infect both men and women, but seems to infect women at a higher rate. This is because women have delicate mucosal tissue in the vagina which is susceptible to small tears and abrasions which permit the infection more easily than in men (Kolesnikow, 2004). To elaborate with numbers there were 3,004 per 100,000 women infected ages 15-19 (Dougherty, 2007) as compared with 615 per 100,000 men the same age. Going up to ages 20-24 there were 2,948 per 100,000 women infected as compared to 932 per 100,000 in their male counterparts (Dougherty, 2007). Chlamydia infection numbers drop rapidly in both sexes as age increases showing that chlamydia is much more an infection of adolescents and young adults (Marr, 2007). In fact sexually active people aged 14-24 have three times the chlamydia prevalence of sexually active adults aged 25-39. For example the combined age groups of 30-65+ in women there were only 762 per 100,000 cases of chlamydia. Chlamydia is also more prevalent in non-Hispanic Black/African Americans. They are seven times more likely to become infected with chlamydia than their white counterparts of the same age (Satterwhite, 2010). The physical, biological, and social environment
For the scope of this paper there are three different environments that pertain to chlamydia infections. They are the physical, the biological, and the social. I will discuss each as a standalone topic, however keeping in mind that all play a role in chlamydial infection. Physical Environment
The physical environment pertains to things such as geologic structures, weather, pollution, rainfall, etc. In this writer’s opinion the physical environment does not pertain to the topic of chlamydia. You could say the physical environment is anywhere two people could engage in any type of sexual intercourse, and with human ingenuity that could be just about anywhere.
The biological environment includes things such as the reservoir (a place for chlamydia to live), the mode of transport, and host susceptibility. I will discuss each of these in detail now. It has already been mentioned what is meant by the biological environment. The reservoir is the place where chlamydia likes to live. In men it is usually the urethra, but it can infect the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm from the testis to the penis) which causes epdidymitis, which is inflammation of that tube. Chlamydia can infect the prostate and cause prostatitis which is inflammation...