CDC Study Finds Chlamydia, Gonorrhea Underreported in Three States, Urges Improvement in Reporting System
More than one-third of gonorrhea cases and up to 22% of chlamydia infections from Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota were not reported to public health officials between 1995 and 1999, according to a study published in today's issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the AP/Denver Post reports. The study was conducted by the CDC, three state health departments and three managed care companies: Kaiser Permanente of Colorado, Massachusetts-based Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and Minnesota-based HealthPartners. The researchers examined the reporting practices of gonorrhea and chlamydia cases by the three managed care organizations between 1995 and 1999 (McClam, AP/Denver Post, 3/29). The study states that 78% to 98% of chlamydia cases and 64% to 80% of gonorrhea cases were reported to health departments. Researchers noted that the amount of time it took positive test results to travel from the laboratory to public health officials varied widely, ranging from one week to more than one year. Kathleen Irwin of the CDC said that this time lapse is important because health departments need to closely monitor sexually transmitted disease trends in order to have a sense of groups at risk for the infections (AP/Baltimore Sun, 3/29). CDC officials said that some doctors may be withholding case reports out of privacy concerns and that other data may be "getting lost in paperwork mix-ups" (McClam, AP/Arizona Republic, 3/29). The study urges more clinics and laboratories to adopt electronic reporting systems. Peter Carr of the Minnesota Health Department said that many Minnesota health organizations have already adopted such systems and that the state health plans get a "passing grade" for complying with mandatory STD reporting regulations (Burcum, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/29). Most states have some type of law regulating STD reporting, although such laws vary by state (AP/MSNBC.com, 3/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.