Brian A. Boyle MD, Adam Stracher MD, David Folk Thomas
Chlamydia is often refered to, and joked about, as "the clap". But for the 3 million people who are infected with it each year in the U.S. alone, it's no laughing matter. Join our panel of experts for a discussion of the causes and treatments for this sexually transmitted disease
DAVID FOLK THOMAS: Welcome to our webcast. I'm David Folk Thomas. Our topic is chlamydia. Now we all know that sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are very high on our conversation list, or our preferred conversation list. But we're looking to change all of that. Chlamydia affects an estimated 3 million Americans every year. It's commonly referred to as the clap, but for those Americans who are infected, it is not joke.
Joining us to discuss chlamydia today are two experts. We're joined by two doctors. Dr. Brian Boyle and Dr. Adam Stracher. They are both attending physicians at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell University Medical Center. They are both Assistant Professors in the Department of International Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Cornell University Medical College. They are not twins. One is from Los Angeles; one is from Long Island. Doctors, thanks for joining us.
This by the way is Dr. Stracher on my left and sitting next to him is Dr. Brian Boyle. Thanks for joining us today.
ADAM STRACHER, MD: Pleasure.
DAVID FOLK THOMAS: Let's just get right to the topic, chlamydia. People have heard about it. They know about the clap. We'll start with you Dr. Stracher. What is chlamydia?
ADAM STRACHER, MD: Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes many different symptoms in patients who get infected. It is a very common sexually transmitted disease. It affects both men and women. It can be transmitted in several different ways.
DAVID FOLK THOMAS: Dr. Boyle, go back and forth. Why don't you explain exactly how it is transmitted? I know a lot of people they know about sexually transmitted diseases -- that's one of the big things they're unsure of. Can I only get it this way? or that way? How many different ways can you get chlamydia?
BRIAN BOYLE, MD: It's generally through sexual transmission and generally through vaginal intercourse or anal intercourse can also spread chlamydia. The main problem with chlamydia is that people can carry it asymptomatically. People who have chlamydia may not know that they have it and they may be spreading it to others sexually. People who have it may have serious consequences of it, if it's not treated, in addition to spreading it to other people.
So it's generally spread sexually. Then the symptoms of it, which we'll talk about in a minute, may or may not appear which can lead to problems with detecting it and treating.
DAVID FOLK THOMAS: Now you said vaginally and you mentioned anal intercourse. What about oral sex? Is that possible?
BRIAN BOYLE, MD: Generally not. I mean you can --potentially you could get a chlamydial infection of the mouth if someone was infected. But that's generally not a problem. Generally it does not colonize the oral pharynx to any remarkable extent.
DAVID FOLK THOMAS: I mentioned that they estimate 3 million Americans are infected every year. How common is chlamydia in the realm of STDs? Do more people have chlamydia than say herpes or gonorrhea or is it an even mix, Dr. Stracher?
ADAM STRACHER, MD: It depends on whether you're talking about symptomatic disease. Chlamydia is a very common infection. More people have probably been exposed to herpes infection but may not have symptoms from herpes infection. But chlamydia, as you said, affects about 3 million people. At least half, both men and women, may have no symptoms as Dr. Boyle mentioned. The problem there is that they may spread it to other people. Then if those people are infected and don't get treated, they may develop consequences later on that may be not life-threatening but very serious.