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Young black and Hispanic women may be tested for chlamydia more often than their white peers, a study finds

January 24, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times

Young black and Hispanic women may be screened at higher rates for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia than young white women, a study finds.

The study included 40,000 young women ages 14 to 25, and researchers looked not only at screening rates, but also at what types of health insurance the study participants had.

More black and Hispanic young women were tested for chlamydia compared with white young women -- the numbers were 65%, 72% and 45%, respectively. Black young women were 2.7 times as likely and Hispanic women were 9.7 times as likely to be screened for the diseased as their white counterparts

Insurance also played a role in who got screened. Young women with public and public pending insurance had a better chance of getting screened for chlamydia than those who were privately insured. When researchers looked at screenings based on public or private insurance status only, they found that young black and Hispanic women still had a greater chance of being screened than young white women.

In addition, women who had a history of chlamydia or any sexually transmitted disease or had been pregnant were more likely to be tested.

As for why this may be occurring, lead study author Dr. Sarah Wiehe said in a news release that perceptions based on race or ethnicity may play a role: "For some common conditions like breast cancer, white women are more likely to receive a screening test like mammography," she said. "For chlamydia infections -- which are highly stigmatized STDs -- white women are less likely, while minority women are more likely, to receive screening. This may mean that providers make judgments about a woman's likelihood of infection based on her race or ethnicity. Yet in an asymptomatic condition like chlamydia, all sexually active young women should be screened."

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

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