After a physiological decline in 2020, where data collection was affected by the pandemic, 2021 saw a recovery in sexually transmitted infections which resumed a growth trend as in previous years. “The alarm over the spread of sexually transmitted infections concerns first of all syphilis and gonorrhea, but not only”, underlines Marco Cusini, president Simast. These are the themes at the center of the IX National Congress of the Interdisciplinary Society for the study of sexually transmitted diseases (Simast), underway in Turin.
To combat STIs there are some forms of prevention, while in the case of risky relationships, early diagnosis remains fundamental. ”In addition to the vaccinations already available for some time for Papilloma virus and Monkeypox, whose efficacy and safety are recognized, there are other vaccinations in various experimental phases – underlines Cusini – For gonorrhea we could have a vaccine already in one or two years, while the times are expected to be longer for syphilis, chlamydia and herpes”.
“Syphilis is the most widespread sexually transmitted bacterial infection in Italy and its rate is constantly increasing, with a growth of 15% in the last year, especially among males who have sex with males (MSM). Gonococcal infection is the second sexually transmitted disease in the world after chlamydia: recent data show a 40% increase in many European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Holland and are also comparable to Italy”.
“The increase in the female population under 25 is especially striking. “This demonstrates – continues Cusini – how it is expanding even outside the population most at risk (MSM). In this sense, the role of oral sex is increasingly relevant in broadcasting. Among the growing trends there is also Monkeypox, the so-called monkeypox: after the peak in spring 2022, the epidemic cannot be said to be over, with reports of cases in several European countries, including Italy” .
by Simone Valesini
Prevention “is also achieved with an intervention on relationships at risk that can be identified with screening, even if the subjects at risk are often not easily reachable. This has opened the doors to self sampling, a self-assessment test that can be sent via post to specialist centers and which has spread in Italy since the pandemic – continues President Simast -. But, for an effective result, a network is needed that monitors the correct execution of the test and allows a treatment path to be started if it is present an infection.”
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Finally, another important piece of data concerns the growth of STIs in patients with HIV infection. “The benefits for HIV deriving from U=U (those with undetectable levels of HIV in the blood do not transmit the virus) and from PREP (pre-exposure prophylaxis with antivirals) – concludes Cusini – could have caused a relaxation of attention in the prevention of STIs and, consequently, an increase in cases”.