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WHO: One in four suffers from venereal disease

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WHO: Jeder Vierte leidet an Geschlechtskrankheit

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Worldwide increase of HIV, syphilis, chlamydia

Invisible, deadly danger to every fourth person

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than one million people between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with STIs (sexually transmitted infections) every day worldwide.

While infections with the AIDS-causing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are fortunately declining, those with syphilis, chlamydia, trichomonas and gonococci are on the increase. According to the WHO, the last four infected 376 million people a year in 2016. However, they often purchase more than one STI at a time.

The number of new infections is 5% higher than in 2012, which means that one in four people worldwide suffers from one or more venereal diseases, i.e. almost two billion people.

WHO: One in four worldwide suffers from venereal disease | NewsDue to the weaker immune system: More women than men affected

Although the number of new infections shows no significant difference between men and women, more women than men suffer from STIs. Women naturally tend to have a weaker immune system, so that the viruses and bacteria of venereal diseases in their bodies usually last longer and have more serious consequences.

For Peter Salama, WHO’s Director for Comprehensive Health Care, this is a wake-up call. “We need a joint effort so that everyone can access services everywhere to prevent and treat these debilitating diseases,” he commented on current developments.

Consequences of an STI

conjunctivitis, but also stillbirths and not infrequently also one’s own death can be

Together with independent experts, WHO evaluated 130 studies and 900 data sets. In addition, millions of people would be infected with genital herpes and human papillomaviruses (HPV) every year. The severity of the consequences and the resulting impairments vary depending on the sexually transmitted disease and the condition of the patient.

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In addition to conjunctivitis and joint pain in the form of arthrosis, cardiovascular diseases, ectopic pregnancies, infertility and stillbirths can also be consequences of a venereal disease. Due to the long-term and increasing weakening of the immune system, death is often the result of an STI infection. This is particularly true for AIDS and syphilis, with the first STI not included in the WHO study mentioned above.

Especially infections with trichomonads and chlamydia

Relatively harmless, but also badly recognizable

According to this study, the most common sexually transmitted disease is the trichomonas infection. In more than 40 percent of the cases investigated, such an infection is present. This means that 156 million people are affected each year. These unicellular parasites lead to inflammation of the genitals and urinary tract.

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As this is often not initially associated with severe pain or major impairments, many people transfer the trichomonads to their sexual partner(s) during sexual intercourse because they do not know that they are infected with them. Even oral sex is possible. 127 million, or 36 percent of newly infected patients, contracted chlamydia in 2016.

As with trichomonas, pain when urinating or discomfort such as genital discharge occur late. Thus, there is also a particularly high risk of unintentional and unknowledgeable transfer.

Mainly because of the high mortality rate:

New infections with syphilis were by far the rarest in 2016

Gonococci are also comparatively harmless (colloquially called gonorrhea). This infects 87 million (23%) people annually. In addition to the mucous membranes of the urinary tract and sexual organs, these often also attack the conjunctiva of the eyes. At best they only cause conjunctivitis, but at worst they can also lead to blindness.

Especially since in the regions critical from a sexual medicine point of view there is often not even the possibility of antibiotic treatment of conjunctivitis. Relatively few people became infected in 2016 with syphilis, the second worst sexually transmitted disease after AIDS. 6.3 million people or just under 2% of newly infected people contracted syphilis during the course of the year.

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However, the main reason for this is not that this sexually transmitted disease is rare or not particularly contagious per se. Rather, this is due to the severe, not to be overlooked consequences and the high fatality (i.e. mortality rate) of syphilis.

The good news

Sexually transmitted diseases are easy to prevent and can be easily cured

The main problem with all sexually transmitted diseases, apart from AIDS, is, as so often, not that they are not easy to treat. Rather, the difficulty is to detect and treat them in time in countries where medical care is not as good as in the countries of the so-called First World, to which Germany belongs.

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Even a proper education and prevention is often much more difficult than in this country. Nevertheless, even the Germans should not evade the debate on this important issue.

Remember: Condoms protect you!

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