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Infectious Diseases

Chlamydia

12/05/2007

Question:

I was diagnosed with chlamydia and my husband had a negative test. We`ve been together for 6 years and I`ve never been unfaithful. Can you explain how this can happen?

Answer:

It is important to first understand how your diagnosis of Chlamydia infection was made. The diagnosis of this infection is typically made by direct collection of genital (urethral or cervical) fluid. This sample can be cultured for the presence of the bacteria. The culture methods are highly sensitive. Nonculture methods for detection of the organism are also available. They are very good tests but somewhat less accurate than cultures. It is thus possible that one of these nonculture tests were performed and tested positive when there was not an actual infection present (called a "false positive test"). A healthcare provider may also perform an examination and suspect a chlamydial infection based on the presence of inflammation of the cervix but not perform a confirmatory test. In this case treatment may be recommended but there may not have been an actual infection. Thus, based on these last two scenarios, you could have been diagnosed as an infection when one did not actually exist. If the testing is positive, however, it is advisable to receive appropriate treatment to avoid potential complications of a potential infection and to prevent transmission.

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Response by:

Kurt B Stevenson, MD, MPH Kurt B Stevenson, MD, MPH
Professor of Infectious Diseases
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University