Chlamydia and gonorrhea were the two most common infectious diseases in 2007, hitting young women and minorities especially hard, the CDC announces in its annual report on sexually transmitted disease (STD) (accessed April 15, 2009).

The more than 1.1 million new diagnoses for chlamydia comprise the most cases ever reported to the CDC for any condition.

Consequently, annual screenings are recommended for all sexually active women younger than age 26 years and for older women who have new or multiple partners or other risk factors. Women who have the disease should be retested after three months and efforts should be made to get their partners tested and treated too.

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Overall, the chlamydia rate rose 7.5% from 2006. Women were infected at a rate three times higher than men. Women and girls aged 15-19 years had the highest rate, followed closely by women aged 20-24 years.

The disease was common across all racial and ethnic groups but distributed disproportionately. The rate among black women was almost eight times that of white women and nearly three times that of Hispanic women.

Gonorrhea was a significant but distant runner-up. The overall rate was slightly higher among women than among men. About 70% of reported cases involved African Americans.

Because the organisms that cause gonorrhea have shown widespread resistance to fluoroquinolones, cephalosporin is the only recommended antibiotic treatment.

Meanwhile, results of a prospective study involving 368 sexually active teens suggest douching is an independent risk factor for contracting STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea (Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009;200:38.e1-e8).

The adjusted hazard ratio for acquiring an STD was 1.8 times greater for girls who douched regularly and 1.4 times greater than those who douched occasionally, as compared with girls who never douched. “Discouraging douching may reduce STD risk in adolescents,” the study concludes.