Curable sexually transmitted infections account for over one million daily cases: WHO

Curable sexually transmitted infections account for over one million daily cases: WHO

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sexually transmitted

In 2022, there were 2,30,000 syphilis-related deaths and 6,30,000 HIV-related deaths, of which 13 per cent were children under the age of 15 years.

Four curable sexually transmitted infections – syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis – account for over one million cases daily, according to a WHO report released this week. The report, ‘Implementing the global health sector strategies on HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, 2022–2030’, sheds light on the impact of these oft-unaddressed public health challenges. 

There has been a surge in adult and maternal syphilis (1.1 million) and associated congenital syphilis (523 cases per 100 000 live births per year) during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, there were 2,30,000 syphilis-related deaths. The new syphilis cases among adults aged 15-49 years increased by nearly one million in 2022, reaching eight million, states the WHO report. The highest increases occurred in the Americas and the African regions. 

New data also show an increase in multi-resistant gonorrhoea. In 2022, around 1.2 million new hepatitis B cases and nearly one million new hepatitis C cases were recorded. The estimated number of deaths from viral hepatitis rose from 1.1 million in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2022, despite effective prevention, diagnosis, and treatment tools.

New HIV infections, on the other hand, only reduced from 1.5 million in 2020 to 1.3 million in 2022. Five key population groups — men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender individuals, and individuals in prisons and other closed settings — still experience significantly higher HIV prevalence rates than the general population. An estimated 55 per cent of new HIV infections occur among these populations and their partners. HIV-related deaths also continue to be high. In 2022, there were 6,30,000 HIV-related deaths, 13 per cent of these were in children under the age of 15 years.

“HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections continue to pose a major global health challenge,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his message. “This report celebrates significant progress in several areas, but also describes gaps in our responses and problematic trends, including new estimates showing a rising incidence of syphilis, raising major concerns. Despite our best efforts, we will not meet the global targets for 2025 and 2030 agreed at the Seventy-fifth World Health Assembly, unless we have a significant acceleration of focus and effort.

“We have the tools required to end these epidemics as public health threats by 2030 – we now need to ensure that in the context of increasingly complex global challenges, countries do all they can to achieve the ambitious targets to which they aspire,” he added.

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