Chlamydia: everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask 

Testing now available

By Marissa Collins

Youth worker

There is no doubt that there are some "things" that are just difficult to chat about.

But this month's youth column has decided to tackle one head on: chlamydia, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections going around.

To find out all you wanted to know about this pesky problem Pique caught up with Whistler's Chlamydia expert Marissa Collins

Pique: How do you get chlamydia?

Marissa Collins: You get chlamydia from vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person. Chlamydia often has no symptoms. So people who are infected may pass chlamydia to their sex partners without knowing it. The more sex partners you (or your partner) have, the higher your risk of getting this STI.

Pique: What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

Collins: Chlamydia is known as a "silent" disease. This is because 75 per cent of infected women and at least 50 per cent of infected men have no symptoms. The chlamydia bacteria also can infect your throat if you have oral sex with an infected partner. Chlamydia is often not diagnosed or treated until problems show up. If you think you may have chlamydia, both you and your sex partner(s) should see a doctor right away -- even if you have no symptoms

Pique: How is chlamydia diagnosed ?

Collins: A doctor can diagnose chlamydia through a swab test, where a fluid sample from an infected site (cervix or penis) is tested for the bacteria or a urine test, where a urine sample is tested for the bacteria.

Pique: Who should get tested for chlamydia?

Collins: You should be tested for chlamydia once a year if you are younger than 25 and have sex or 25 or older and have a new sex partner, have more than one sex partner, have sex with someone who has other sex partners, have had chlamydia or another STI in the past, have traded sex for money or drugs, do not use condoms during sex within a relationship that is not mutually monogamous, meaning you or your partner has sex with other people or are pregnant.  You also should be tested if you have any symptoms of chlamydia.

Pique: What is the treatment for chlamydia ?

Collins: Antibiotics are used to treat chlamydia. If treated, chlamydia can be cured. All sex partners should be treated to keep from getting chlamydia again. Do not have sex until you and your sex partner(s) have ended treatment.

People can receive non-judgmental and confidential sexual healthcare services at the Whistler SAFE Clinic, Tuesdays 4:30-7:30 p.m., no appointment necessary.  The cost, for people without valid Canadian healthcare insurance is $30, which includes testing if required. There may be additional charges, which will always be explained prior to provision of services.  This clinic only provides sexual healthcare services. All physicians are trained to diagnose and treat STI, so you should not wait for the SAFE Clinic - if you are having symptoms, get yourself looked after by any of the excellent physicians in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Whistler SAFE Clinic and community partners will provide outreach Chlamydia screening opportunities again this winter season - look for posters and ads for Whistler's Chlamydia Project.

Pique has partnered with the Mountain Youth Society to bring readers a monthly column that looks at the issues facing our youth aged 13 to 35. MYS promotes and fosters the positive growth and development through the programs and services of its member organizations. Public meetings with guest speakers are held the second Tuesday of each month at Whistler Public Library's Community Room from 3:30-4:30 p.m. The next meeting is Tuesday, October 11, 2011 with Danielle Duplassie



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