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One million cases of sexually transmitted infections occur daily, says WHO

One million new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among people age between 15 to 49 occur every day, according to new research published by the World Health Organisation.

That means more than 376 million new cases annually on four infections including gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, chlamydia and syphilis.

The research was published online by the Bulletin of the WHO on Thursday. It noted that STIs still remains a persistent and endemic threat worldwide.

“Since the last published data for 2012, there has been no substantive decline in either the rates of new or existing infections,” the report read partly.

According to the latest figure, one in 25 people globally have at least one of the STIs with some experiencing multiple infections at the same time.

There were 127 million new cases of chlamydia, 87 million of gonorrhoea, 6.3 million of syphilis and 156 million of trichomoniasis in 2016.

Trichomoniasis is caused by infection by a parasite during sexual intercourse while chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea are bacterial infections.

STIs lead to serious issues

If untreated, the WHO said it could lead to serious and chronic health effects that include neurological and cardiovascular (heart) disease. It could also lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirths and increased risk of HIV. The infections are also associated with significant levels of stigma and domestic violence.

According to the research, syphilis caused an estimated 200,000 stillbirths and newborn deaths in 2016, making it one of the leading causes of baby loss globally.

STIs spread predominantly through unprotected sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Peter Salama, executive director for Universal Health Coverage at the WHO said: “We’re seeing a concerning lack of progress in stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections worldwide.

“This is a wake-up call for a concerted effort to ensure everyone, everywhere can access the services they need to prevent and treat these debilitating diseases.”

Safe sexual practices, especially through condom use and better access to testing and treatment are crucial for reducing the burden, says WHO.

Pain when urinating, vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods are some of the symptoms of STIs. However, some people may not be aware they have an infection prior to testing.

For treatment, bacterial STIs could be treated and cured with widely available medications.

But Syphilis treatment has been difficult because of shortages in the supply of specific penicillin needed. Gonorrhoea treatment is being threatened as a result of its resistance to antimicrobial medications.

In Nigeria, Gonorrhea is identified as the most common sexually transmitted diseases with a recent survey putting its prevalence at 28.1 per cent of the population.

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