A Million New STIs Are Contracted Every Day, the WHO Says

Henrietta Strickland
June 7, 2019

According to the report, which includes 2016 health statistics for men and women between the ages of 15 and 49, some 127 million new cases of chlamydia were recorded in just a single calendar year.

Four infections - chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and syphilis - account for a combined total of more than 376 million new cases annually, the World Health Organization said in a report.

Approximately 13.5 per cent (50.8 million) of these infections occurred in low-income countries, 31.4 per cent (118.1 million) in lower middle-income countries, 47.1 per cent (177.3million) in upper middle-income countries and 8 per cent (30.1 million) in high-income nations, according to the report. Trichomoniasis was the most common STI among women, affecting about 5% of all women worldwide, while chlamydia was the most common among men, affecting nearly 3% of the global male population. Coupled with the difficulty of these infections often not presenting symptoms, which allows for transmissions unknowingly to sexual partners or from mothers to infants, Taylor called this a "hidden epidemic, a silent epidemic, a unsafe epidemic, that is persistent globally". Syphilis can also be spread through contact with infected blood or blood products and drug use through injections.

The figures do not highlight drug-resistant infections separately but Teodora Wi, WHO medical officer specialising in sexual health, warned of the rise of STIs that may one day be impossible to treat. And there is no subsequent decline in the condition since the last research in 2012.

Sexually transmitted infections or STIs are a "persistent and endemic health threat worldwide" and have a profound impact on both adult and child health, the WHO said.

Salama said these numbers should be considered a "wake-up call" to "everyone, everywhere" that more services are needed to prevent and treat these diseases.

" STIs are also associated with significant levels of stigma and domestic violence". Syphilis alone caused an estimated 200 000 stillbirths and newborn deaths in 2016, making it one of the leading causes of baby loss globally.

"All bacterial STIs can be treated and cured with widely available medications".

Shortages in the global supply of benzathine penicillin has recently made it more complicated to treat syphilis, while increasing resistance to the antibiotics used to treat gonorrhea "may lead eventually to the disease being impossible to treat", World Health Organization warned.

Dr. Tim Jinks, head of the Drug Resistant Infection program at United Kingdom medical research charity Wellcome, said in a statement that the high number of gonorrhea cases were of "particular concern", citing last year's cases of "super-gonorrhea", found in the United Kingdom and Australia "which are practically impossible to treat". The World Health Assembly in 2016 aims to take necessary steps to end STIs as public health concern by 2030. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.

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