Disparities: Racial Gaps Seen in Chlamydia Screening
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
All sexually active women under 25 are supposed to be screened for chlamydia. But a new analysis finds that black and Hispanic women are screened at significantly higher rates than white women, and this could help explain why minority women have higher reported rates of the disease.
The study, published in the February issue of Pediatrics, examined the records of more than 23,000 women ages 14 to 25 who visited health care facilities in Indianapolis from 2002 to 2007.
Over all, 58 percent of the women were screened. The youngest women and those with insurance were slightly more likely to be tested than the older and the uninsured. But black women were three times as likely to be tested as white women, and Hispanic women almost 13 times as likely to be tested.
Chlamydia rates are higher among blacks and Hispanics, and this could be a reason to screen them more often than whites. But cervical cancer rates, for example, are also higher among blacks and Hispanics, yet there is no difference by race in screening for that disease. The authors say the stigma attached to a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia may make clinicians less likely to test white women.
The lead author, Dr. Sarah E. Wiehe, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University, said these differences in screening might have a significant effect on reported rates of disease. “There is a higher prevalence of chlamydia among certain women,” she said. “We don’t know how much of that is driven by differences in screening.”