Health. “Worrying” rise in sexually transmitted infections in Europe

Health.  “Worrying” rise in sexually transmitted infections in Europe

A “worrying” wave of sexually transmitted infections (STI) has been observed in Europe, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned on Thursday, which calls for increased prevention work.

In 2022, cases of gonorrhea jumped by 48%, with 70,881 cases in the European Union, those of syphilis show an increase of 34% (35,391 cases) and those of chlamydia by 16% (216,508 cases), according to the agency’s annual report.

“This increase is as staggering as it is worrying,” said Andrea Ammon, director of the ECDC, at a press conference. “These numbers, while important, likely represent just the tip of the iceberg, as the data” may be underestimated, she added, explaining that this was due to differences in screening practices , but also access to sexual health services in the 27 countries covered by the agency.

Young people most affected

According to ECDC data, cases of syphilis are “eight times higher among men than among women.” Men aged 25 to 34 are most affected. Conversely, chlamydia is more common in young women, aged 20 to 24. In this population group, cases increased by 18% in 2022 compared to 2021.

Young people aged 20 to 24 are also the most affected by gonorrhea cases, with 99.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants among men and 48.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants among women. In 2022, women aged 20 to 24 experienced the largest increase in the number of cases (63%).

An “urgent need” for awareness

The results show that there is “an urgent need to raise awareness about the transmission of STI and a need to improve prevention, access to screening and effective treatments to address this public health challenge,” the ECDC stressed in a press release.

“We must prioritize sex education, expand access to testing and treatment services, and combat the stigma associated with STI “, explained Andrea Ammon in the press release.

In addition, the systematic use of condoms during sexual intercourse as well as an “open dialogue” on STI should be encouraged as they help reduce the transmission of infections. In mid-December, Public Health France also warned of an increase in cases of chlamydia (16%), gonorrhea (91%) and syphilis (110%) in France.

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