Västerbotten's battle: chlamydia cases post-pandemic

Maria Marklund, infection control doctor at Region Västerbotten.
Maria Marklund, infection control doctor at Region Västerbotten.

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in Sweden. In recent years, following the pandemic, there has been an increase in infections, but new figures from 2023 suggest a slight decrease in cases.

Skellefteå 16 januari 2024 16:45

Despite the standard advice to use protection during intercourse with a new partner in order to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, statistics show the frequent spread of various sexually transmitted infections in society, and Västerbotten is no exception.

Chlamydia, which often has no symptoms, is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Therefore, it is important to get tested for infection after unprotected sex with a new or casual partner or if symptoms are suspected.

This is not a photo of a starry sky but of a chlamydia sample from a cervix. The yellow "moon" is a cluster of numerous bacteria, and the "stars" are individual chlamydia bacteria.

Statistics from the previous year show a slight decrease in the number of confirmed cases compared to the previous year.

– In 2023, 714 cases of chlamydia were confirmed in Västerbotten, says Maria Marklund, infectious disease doctor at Region Västerbotten. This compares with 751 cases in 2022. Comparing the years 2022 and 2021, there is an increase of more than 220 cases, which is believed to be due to the return to pre-pandemic life. During the pandemic, all types of sexually transmitted infections decreased.

–  The increase is due to the return to the lifestyle we had before the pandemic. But compared to the years before the pandemic, there is no significant increase in Västerbotten, says Marklund.

Of the reported cases, 404, or 54 percent, were female, and 347, or 46 percent, were male. Most of the cases are in the 15-24 age group.

To avoid infection it is recommended to use a condom or femidon.

The extent of underreporting is difficult to determine, says Marklund, because chlamydia is often asymptomatic. Chlamydia infection can have consequences such as fallopian tube problems and infertility, Marklund explains.

– You can be infected without knowing it, and there is a degree of under-reporting with all infections.

One way to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections is to use a condom or femidom.

What is Region Västerbotten doing to prevent the spread of infection?

– We work extensively to provide information and advocate for easy access to testing. Contact tracing for chlamydia is centralized in Västerbotten, which we consider effective in quickly breaking transmission chains. But much depends on the individual using a condom and being tested after unprotected sex with a new partner, says Marklund.

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