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Published On: Thu, May 30th, 2013

Researchers suggest living in a poor neighborhood as an adolescent increases risk of Chlamydia as a young adult

In a recently published paper in the Journal of Urban Health, researchers from the Ohio State University suggest that living in a poor neighborhood as an adolescent is linked to an increased risk of getting the sexually transmitted infection (STI) chlamydia in young adulthood.

This McCoy cell monolayer micrograph reveals a number of intracellular C. trachomatis inclusion bodies Image/CDC

This McCoy cell monolayer micrograph reveals a number of intracellular C. trachomatis inclusion bodies Image/CDC

In the study, Neighborhoods and Infectious Disease Risk: Acquisition of Chlamydia during the Transition to Young Adulthood,  OSU researchers, Jodi Ford and Christopher Browning say the risk of chlamydia increases nearly 25 percent even if they themselves weren’t poor, than did teenagers living in wealthier settings.

“There is a long-term effect of living in poverty on the risk for sexually transmitted infections in young adulthood, above and beyond behavioral issues,” said Jodi Ford, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of nursing at Ohio State.

“We have a lot of interventions trying to address sexual risk behaviors, but few target neighborhood poverty and disadvantage. And this work shows that living in a poor neighborhood can have a long-term effect on health.”

Ford and Browning accessed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to conduct the analysis. The sample they studied included data from three separate interviews of 11,460 youths who participated in the national project. When they were first interviewed, the average age of the children studied was 15.6 years; by the time of the third interview, these same participants were between 18 and 27 years old.

The prevalence of chlamydia among the young adults surveyed was 4.6 percent – relatively low compared to what national data suggest, Ford said. That could be because the national longitudinal study from which she drew her sample took place in schools, meaning it did not capture portions of the population who had dropped out prior to the beginning of the Add Health study.

The researchers considered four characteristics from U.S. Census data from corresponding years to determine whether the youths lived in poor neighborhoods as teenagers: proportion of households below poverty, proportion of households on public assistance, total unemployment rate and proportion of female-headed households with children.

By applying statistical modeling to the data, Ford determined that young adults who lived in a neighborhood with higher concentrations of poverty during their adolescence had higher odds of testing positive for chlamydia in their early 20s compared to their more advantaged peers.

See the Ohio State University news release

The CDC says, Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacterium. Chlamydia can infect both men and women and can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive organs.

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States. In 2011, 1,412,791 cases of chlamydia were reported to CDC from 50 states and the District of Columbia, but an estimated 2.86 million infections occur annually.

People get chlamydia by having sex with someone who has the infection. “Having sex” means anal, vaginal, or oral sex.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON says:

    IN REFERENCE TO NEGROES, THIS ARTICLE MAKES SENSE IF YOU UNDERSTAND THE SEXUAL CULTURE OF PRE-COLONIAL AFRICA.

    AT THE ONSET OF PUBERTY – IN OUR CONTEMPORARY TIME – A NEGRO MALE CAN ATTEND A SOCIAL FUNCTION ONCE [OR, TWICE] WITHOUT BEING ACCOMPANIED BY A FEMALE. IF HE CONTINUES TO ATTEND EVENTS WITHOUT A FEMALE “ON HIS ARM,” HE WILL BE LABELED, gay. [I can not tell you the number of times in which I have attended a black event and people ask, “Chris, do you have any kids?”]. IN THE AFRICAN TRADITION, NEGRO MALES ARE EXPECTED TO “SHOWCASE” THEIR HETEROSEXUALITY AND FATHER AS MANY CHILDREN AS, POSSIBLE. THIS IS THE “DRIVING FORCE” BEHIND TEENAGE PREGNANCY, WELFARE ENTITLEMENTS AND THIS ARTICLE’S FOCUS ON chlamydia.

    BECAUSE OF “gangsta rap music,” NEGRO MALES HAVE DEFINED contemporary “manhood” FOR CAUCASIAN- AND HISPANIC-MALES – REGARDLESS, OF WHETHER THEY LIVE IN POVERTY. AS LONG AS POVERTY EXISTS, chlamydia IN POOR AREAS WILL EXIST.

    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

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