The World Health Organization has identified more than 376 million new infections caused by chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis for the year 2016. This number has remained stable since 2012, while the WHO aims for virtual elimination by 2030.
Every day there are more than 1 million new sexually transmitted infections (STDs) worldwide, warns the World Health Organization (WHO). Although these diseases are curable, they continue to predominate at the expense of infertility, cardiovascular disease, pain, and an increased risk of contracting the AIDS virus (HIV).
1 in 25 people has at least one of these four sexually transmitted diseases.
376.4 million new sexually transmitted infections with chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis (bacteria), and trichomoniasis (parasites) have been identified in the 15-49 age group in 2016, according to a recent WHO study. That is, more than 1 million per day, but this corresponds to fewer people infected, “because repeated infections and co-infections are common,” explain the authors of this paper. According to the WHO, on average, about 1 in 25 people worldwide have at least one of these sexually transmitted diseases.
Syphilis is the world’s leading cause of infant loss
These four diseases are by no means insignificant and are therefore associated with an increased risk of infection and transmission of HIV, the AIDS virus. In addition, chlamydia and gonorrhea are the main causes of infertility in women, and syphilis can cause severe cardiovascular and neurological disease in advanced stages. The transmission of these diseases during pregnancy can also have serious consequences for infants: premature birth, septicemia (severe systemic infection), blindness, congenital malformations, and death. Syphilis alone is the leading cause of baby loss worldwide with 200,000 deaths before or shortly after birth in 2016.
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“A worrying lack of progress in halting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases”.
Based on the analysis of 112 published studies, researchers counted 127 million new cases of chlamydia, 87 million cases of gonorrhea, 6.3 million cases of syphilis, and 156 million cases of trichomoniasis in 2016. Similar figures to those of 2012, the previous edition of this type of results, “which show that sexually transmitted infections are still endemic,” the authors regret in the publication. “We note a worrying lack of progress in halting the global spread of sexually transmitted infections,” says Dr. Peter Salama, Executive Director of the WHO Universal Course on Health and Life, in a statement.
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The prevalence of these infections is particularly high in the Pacific islands. But although the prevalence of gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis is higher in low-income countries than in others, they are not the only ones affected by these diseases. For example, in middle-income countries, led mainly by Latin American countries, chlamydia infection is the most widespread worldwide.
Diseases that are known to be preventable and treatable
However, we know how to prevent and treat these venereal diseases. Since they spread mainly through unprotected sexual contact, they could be avoided by correct and consistent condom use and sexual health education. As some STDs (gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, AIDS) can be transmitted during pregnancy or childbirth, the WHO recommends routine screening for pregnant women.
All bacterial sexually transmitted diseases can be treated and cured with drugs that are unfortunately less effective due to deficiencies (penicillin benzathine for syphilis) or a rapid increase in bacterial resistance (e.g. gonorrhea) to antibiotics).