Thursday, 13 June, 2024
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WHO report flags global rise of STIs

A new report from the WHO shows that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise worldwide, with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis, all of which are curable, being responsible for more than 1m daily infections in adults aged 15 to 49.

Cases of syphilis, in particular, have been rising rapidly, with new cases in that age category increased from 7.1m in 2020 to 8m in 2022, reports ABC News.

There have also been increases in congenital syphilis: between 2020 and 2022, the rate per 100 000 live births per year rose from 425 to 523.

The global trends mirror those seen in the United States. A US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report earlier this year found the total number of syphilis cases increased more than 17% to 207 255 between 2021 and 2022, reaching the greatest number of cases reported since 1950.

The report also found that cases of antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea are increasing, which was labelled another “concern”. As of 2023, nine countries reported elevated levels – from 5% to 40% – of resistance to ceftriaxone, which is considered a last line treatment for gonorrhoea.

Data point to a lack of screening for the rise in STIs as well as other issues, including a lack access to care.

Additionally, disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic possibly delayed screening for many.

“The rising incidence of syphilis raises major concerns,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“Fortunately, there has been progress on other fronts, for instance in accelerating access to critical health commodities, including diagnostics and treatment.

“We have the tools required to end these epidemics as public health threats by 2030, but we need to ensure that… countries do all they can to achieve the ambitious targets they set themselves.”

Not all trends showed an upward trajectory: in 2022, the number of people newly infected with HIV globally fell to 1.3m from 1.5m.

However, the WHO notes that certain populations – men who have sex with men; people who inject drugs; sex workers; transgender people; and those in prisons and other closed settings – continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV.

The WHO said there had been gains in expanding STIs, HIV and hepatitis services, and several countries have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and/or syphilis.

Sexual infection report


CDC Report (Open access)


ABC News article – STIs, including syphilis, gonorrhoea, increasing globally: WHO (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Alarm as syphilis rates rise worldwide, including in SA


STD numbers at an all-time high – US Centres for Disease Control


Gauteng Health flags rise in STI infections







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