WHO: Every fourth person suffers from venereal disease

By Stephan Gubenbauer
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
WHO: Every fourth person suffers from venereal disease
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Worldwide increase in HIV, syphilis, chlamydia

Invisible, deadly danger for every fourth person

According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million people between the ages of 15 and 49 become infected with so-called STIs (STI is the abbreviation for “sexually transmitted infections”) every day.

While infections with the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are fortunately declining, those with syphilis, chlamydia, trichomonads, and gonococci are increasing. The last four infected 376 million people a year in 2016, according to the WHO. However, they often acquire more than one STI at the same time.

The number of new infections is 5% higher than in 2012. Thus, one in four people worldwide suffers from one or more STDs, or nearly two billion people.

WHO: Jeder Vierte leidet an GeschlechtskrankheitDue 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, by their very nature, tend to have weaker immune systems, so the viruses and bacteria from STDs tend to linger longer in their bodies and have more serious consequences.

For Peter Salama, WHO’s director of universal health coverage, this is a wake-up call. “We need concerted efforts to ensure that everyone everywhere can access services to prevent and treat these debilitating diseases,” he commented on the current development.

Consequences of an STI

conjunctivitis, but also stillbirths and not infrequently also the own death can be

For this purpose, WHO, together with independent experts, evaluated 130 studies and 900 data sets. In addition, millions of people are infected with genital herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV) every year. The severity of the consequences and the resulting impairments vary depending on the venereal disease and on the patient’s condition.

Hier lieber nicht klicken...

In addition to conjunctivitis and joint pain in the form of arthritis, cardiovascular disease, ovarian pregnancies, infertility, and stillbirths can also be consequences of STDs. Due to the long-term and increasing weakening of the immune system, it is not uncommon for one’s own death to be the consequence of an STI infection. This applies in particular to AIDS and syphilis, although the first STI was not included in the above-mentioned WHO study.

Mainly infections with trichomonads and chlamydiae

Relatively harmless, but also poorly recognizable

According to this study, the most common STD is the trichomonad infection. In more than 40 percent of the cases of infection examined, such an infection is present. This means that 156 million people are affected each year. Said unicellular parasites cause inflammation of the reproductive organs and urinary tract.

Immer mehr Deutsche leiden an Syphilis

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

As with trichomonads, pain during urination or symptoms such as genital discharge do not occur until late. This means that there is also a particularly high risk of unintentional and unknowing transmission.

Mainly because of the high mortality rate:

New infections with syphilis were by far the rarest in 2016

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

Especially since in the regions that are critical from the point of view of sexual medicine there is often not even the possibility of an antibiotic treatment of conjunctivitis. Relatively few people became infected with syphilis, the second most serious STD after AIDS, in 2016. 6.3 million people, or just under 2% of those newly infected, contracted syphilis during the year.

PrEP-Tablette: Eine Pille gegen HIV und AIDS?

However, the main reason for this is not that this STD is rare per se or not particularly contagious. 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

STDs are easy to prevent and well curable

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

Hier lieber nicht klicken...

Also a proper education and prevention is often much more difficult than in this country. Nevertheless, the Germans should not avoid dealing with this important issue.

Think drank: Condoms protect!

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