Sexually transmitted infections/diseases (STIs or STDs) like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are on the rise worldwide. But still hardly anyone talks about it.
Sexually transmitted infections are a growing problem in many countries. According to the WHO, worldwide more than 1 million people a day are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. The most frequent are syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. Each year, there are an estimated 357 million new infections with one of four of these STIs (source). Observations also confirm a high prevalence of the other more than 30 known sexually transmissible pathogens, e.g., mycoplasmas or HPV.
One reason for the increase, despite diagnostic and therapeutic progress, is that sexual diseases are still stigmatized and taboo even in industrialized countries. The topic is therefore less prevalent in society which lessens the fear of infection – and for many people the need to use adequate protection.
Many cases go undiagnosed.
The situation is made worse by the fact that most sexually transmitted diseases cause only mild or no symptoms, so the infection often goes undetected. The risk of passing on the infection therefore rises. Furthermore, untreated infections can cause permanent damage. For example, an untreated syphilis infection can lead to organ damage and neurosyphilis, in pregnant women even to the child’s death. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the main reasons for infertility in women. Infections with certain types of HPV can cause cervical cancer.
These reasons make it very important to raise awareness about the risks and to detect infections early. Once diagnosed, all sexually transmitted infections are treatable with good results. However, the increase in antibiotic-resistant pathogens worldwide remains problematic. Very few antibiotics are effective for gonococci, for example.