Sexually transmitted infections on the rise across E.U. bloc

The European STIs watchdog advises more transparency, more education and more free condoms.

The European Union / European Economic Area (EU/EEA) has been experiencing a concerning surge of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) over the past years, says the latest Annual Epidemiological Report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) – published this March for year 2022. 

The infection rate reported for that year witnessed a notable surge compared to the previous year, with gonorrhoea cases escalating by 48%, syphilis cases by 34%, and chlamydia cases by 16%.

Furthermore, instances of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) and congenital syphilis (transmitted from mother to fetus) have also seen substantial increases. These trends highlight the imperative for immediate action to curb further transmission and alleviate the impact of STIs on public health, the ECDC emphasized.

The watchdog organization called on the member governments and national health authorities across the continent to urgently increase transparency and literacy around STI transmission and bolster efforts for prevention, such as the distribution of free condoms.

ECDC Director Andrea Ammon also stressed the necessity for immediate attention to testing and treatment of STIs and to elaborating long-term strategy with focus on sexual health education and combating STI-related stigma.

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Education and awareness initiatives are essential in empowering individuals to make informed decisions regarding their sexual health, while promoting consistent condom usage and fostering open dialogue about STIs to mitigate transmission rates, she added.

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While treatable, STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis can lead to severe health complications if left untreated, including pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pain, infertility (in the case of chlamydia and gonorrhoea), and neurological and cardiovascular issues (in the case of syphilis). Untreated syphilis during pregnancy can result in adverse outcomes for children.

According to a 2023 World Health Organization report, more than 1 million cases of STI are registered every day worldwide.

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