STI infection increase a ‘major concern’ for health officials: WHO

The increase in sexually transmitted infections (STI) has caused a “major concern” for health officials, according to a report published Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO).

One of the curable STI diseases, syphilis, has increased to more than a million among adults aged 19-45 in 2022, according to the report. The highest spike was seen in two regions: Africa and the Americas.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said while the development has raised “concerns,” health officials have the “tools” to address it by the end of this decade.

“The rising incidence of syphilis raises major concerns”, the Ethiopian health official said. “Fortunately, there has been important progress on a number of other fronts including 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 now need to ensure that, in the context of an increasingly complex world, countries do all they can to achieve the ambitious targets they set themselves,” he continued.

The four curable STIs — syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis — are responsible for more than a million infections daily, according to the report. There were around 230,000 syphilis-related deaths in 2022.

In the same year, there were around 1.2 million new Hepatitis B cases and nearly 1 million new Hepatitis C cases.

New HIV infections dropped from 1.5 million in 2020 to 1.3 million in 2022, per the report. Five population groups — sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, men having sex with men, and people in prison — still have higher HIV rates than the rest of the general population.

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