The Mission Against Minnesota's Most Common Infectious Disease
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota's efforts to reduce the cases of chlamydia are taking shape, with a variety of stakeholders coming together on a statewide strategy.
That strategy is now in place and work under way in the battle against the most-reported infectious disease in Minnesota. The number of chlamydia cases in the state has doubled in the past decade, reaching a record high 17,000 in 2011.
According to Marcie Babcock, manager of testing and communications at the Minnesota Department of Health, one key focus is to increase screenings, since often this STD is asymptomatic.
"Part of the issue with chlamydia is that often there are no symptoms, so individuals don't know they have it and don't seek testing or treatment for the infection, and it can spread," she said.
Those ages 15 to 25 are most affected by chlamydia, and it's diagnosed more often in women than men. About a third of the state's cases are in Minneapolis/St. Paul, a third in the suburbs and a third in Greater Minnesota.
The screening for chlamydia is non-invasive and the disease is easily treated once detected, but if it is not dealt with, Babcock said, the long-term health complications can be significant.
"Infertility for both men and women. Pelvic inflammatory disease. Chronic pelvic pain. In some cases, ectopic pregnancies, and again, it's very serious," she declared.
In addition to more screenings, the strategy includes improving education, raising community awareness and ensuring STD services are affordable and accessible to all. The strategy comes from the Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership, which was formed a couple of years ago.
Co-founder Candy Hadsall said the coalition includes city officials, health leaders and groups such as Teenwise Minnesota, which connect with those at risk.
"The adolescents and young adults who are most impacted by this disease, they don't have the public voice. They are not in positions of power. They can't do things to change health conditions in a community by themselves," said Hadsall. "So, that's why I believe in the power of the adult coalitions to come together and bring the youth in, support them, and together figure out what to do."
More information on the epidemic and the efforts can be found online at the Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership website.