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February 13, 2002

Unveiling the Hidden Epidemic of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Section of Adolescent Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.

JAMA. 2002;287(6):768-769. doi:10.1001/jama.287.6.768

In 2000, a total of 702 093 genital infections due to Chlamydia trachomatis and 358 995 due to Neisseria gonorrhoeae were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 These reported cases represent an extraordinary number of curable infections. One explanation for the persistence of high levels of disease may lie in a gross underestimation of the burden of disease in the population. Both C trachomatis and N gonorrhoeae have poorly understood capacities for production of asymptomatic infections. A pool of untreated persons sustains high levels of disease, even for individuals not otherwise characterized by patterns of high-risk sexual behaviors.2