HealthDay News — An estimated 1.8 million Americans aged 14 to 39 years are infected with Chlamydia trachomatis, and many don’t know it, according to research published by the CDC.

“Case reports likely underestimate the burden of disease because most infections are asymptomatic and are neither diagnosed nor reported,” reported Elizabeth Torrone, PhD, of the CDC, and colleagues in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“At the same time, because untreated chlamydia can persist, case report data are strongly influenced by screening activity, increasing with extensive screening and decreasing with limited screening.”

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Chlamydia infection rates in 2012

Race/ethnicity Chlamydia infection rate
Black 13.5%
Mexican-American 4.5%
White 1.8%

Currently, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screening of sexually active females aged <25 years and screening of older women at increased risk (e.g., women who have new or multiple sex partners). Additionally, male patients who report rectal sex should be screened at least annually.

“Strategies to increase screening in clinical facilities might include patient and clinician education and structural interventions at the health care facility, such as adding prompts to the electronic medical record,” suggested the agency.