AIDS, Hepatitis and Sexual Health

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Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common STI caused by a bacterium and spread by vaginal, anal or oral sex. Chlamydia infects the neck of the womb (cervix) in women and the tube inside the penis (urethra) in men. Sometimes it can infect the throat and anus of either sex.

Symptoms

In women there are often no symptoms, but if untreated it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Sometimes there is an unusual vaginal fluid (discharge) or a burning sensation when urinating or vaginal bleeding after sex. Deep pain during vaginal sex may also be a sign of Chlamydia infection in women. This can have serious consequences such as infertility and permanent pelvic pain, and so sexually active women should consider regular medical checks for Chlamydia infection.

In men, Chlamydia commonly affects the urethra (the tube along the inside of the penis), and this is classed as non specific urethritis (NSU). Men may have no signs or symptoms either. There may be a white or clear fluid (discharge) from the penis and or discomfort during urination. Because of the potentially serious consequences for women of infection, heterosexually active men have a responsibility to also have regular medical check ups.

Transmission

Chlamydia is easily spread during vaginal sex without the use of a condom. It can also be spread during oral or anal sex without the use of a condom

Prevention

Chlamydia is easily prevented by properly used condoms during penetrative sex, and safe sex practices.

Treatment

If noticed early, Chlamydia can be treated with a single dose of antibiotics. Advanced Chlamydia and PID in women may need longer courses of antibiotics. Partners of people with chlamydia also need to be treated to stop cross-infection.

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