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How the CDC Estimates the chlamydia population of the United States

  • chlamydia
  • cdc
  • population


"How do we know how many people have chlamydia? Is it a big deal or is it something that I don't really need to worry about? Thanks!"

- Anonymous


Thank you for your question. We will get into the details of the questions you asked, but to make one thing clear from the start: yes—chlamydia is a “big deal” and you should be concerned about contracting it.


When it comes to precise figures, nailing down the exact number of people who are infected with chlamydia is difficult to do. A lot of people have not been tested for STDs, and the amount of people that get tested on a regular basis is a tiny fraction of the amount of people that, realistically, should be getting tested for STDs on a regular basis (every few months).


That being said, there are some remarkable clever methods that are in use to make educated estimates of the number of people with the disease. For instance, in the United Kingdom, where healthcare is handled by the government, there is fairly accurate information available relating to  the data on publicly funded chlamydia tests. Diagnoses have been collected nationally there. 


In the United States, no such system is in place. The CDC does as good of a job as possible when it comes to keeping track of the number of people with any given disease, but since the CDC is not an agency that doctor’s offices report directly to, they must use a number of techniques to try to nail down the number of people with chlamydia.


In the past, the estimates for the number of people with chlamydia in the United States varied significantly between the low end of the range and the high end of the range. Right now, it is estimated that four million people contract chlamydia in the United States every year. This figure is arrived at by applying data- and evidence-based assumptions to come up with reasonable minimum and maximum estimates while trying to reduce the amount of uncertainty. 


What is for sure is the amount of confirmed infections has been rising in the past few years.


Chlamydia is curable, but can be very serious if it remains untreated. Always use protection to drastically decrease the chances of contracting chlamydia.

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