Thursday July 18, 2019

Reported Cases of Sexually Transmitted Disease Up by 70% in Europe Since 2010

Amato-Gauci said complacency among men who have gay sex and seem unconcerned about HIV risks appeared to be fuelling the problem

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sexually transmitted disease
A nurse takes blood from a man for a free HIV test on a bus in Tehran, Dec. 16, 2015. In Europe, for the first time since the early 2000s, syphilis is more common in some countries than new cases of HIV, health experts said Friday. VOA

Syphilis cases have soared in Europe over the last decade and become, for the first time since the early 2000s, more common in some countries than new cases of HIV, health experts said Friday.

Reported cases of the sexually transmitted disease are up by 70% since 2010, a report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed, with the rise driven by more unprotected sex and riskier sexual behavior among gay men.

“The increases in syphilis infections that we see across Europe … are a result of several factors, such as people having sex without condoms and multiple sexual partners, combined with a reduced fear of acquiring HIV,” said Andrew Amato-Gauci, an ECDC expert on sexually transmitted infections.

The European report comes after the World Health Organization said last month that around a million people each day worldwide catch a sexually transmitted infection.

sexually transmitted disease
FILE – A billboard above a gas station, April 1, 2016, promotes testing for sexually transmitted diseases. The number of cases of STDs – chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – in California reached a record high in 2017. VOA

Left untreated, syphilis can have severe complications in men and women, including causing stillbirths and newborn deaths and increasing the risk of HIV. Syphilis was one of the leading causes of baby loss globally in 2016.

The Stockholm-based ECDC, which monitors health and disease in Europe, said that overall, more than 260,000 syphilis cases were reported from 30 countries from 2007 to 2017.

In 2017, syphilis rates reached an all-time high with more than 33,000 reported cases, the ECDC said. This meant that for the first time since the early 2000s, the region reported more cases of syphilis than new cases of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.

But the problem varied significantly by country, with rates more than doubling in five countries — Britain, Germany, Ireland, Iceland and Malta — but dropping by 50% or more in Estonia and Romania.

sexually transmitted disease
Amato-Gauci said complacency among men who have gay sex and seem unconcerned about HIV risks appeared to be fuelling the problem. Pixabay

Close to two-thirds of the cases reported between 2007 and 2017 where sexual orientation was known were in men who have sex with men, the ECDC report said, while heterosexual men contributed 23% of cases and women 15%.

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The proportion of cases diagnosed among men who have sex with men ranged from less than 20% in Latvia, Lithuania and Romania to more than 80% in France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain.

Amato-Gauci said complacency among men who have gay sex and seem unconcerned about HIV risks appeared to be fuelling the problem. “To reverse this trend, we need to encourage people to use condoms consistently with new and casual partners,” he said. (VOA)

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UNAIDS: 16 Per Cent Decline in HIV Cases Since 2010, Driven Mostly by Steady Progress

The report also revealed that AIDS-related deaths continued to decline as access to treatment continues

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UNAIDS, HIV, Progress
UNAIDS' Global AIDS Update showed that South Africa, for example, has made huge advances and has successfully reduced new HIV infections by more than 40 per cent and AIDS-related deaths by around 40 per cent. Pixabay

The UNAIDS in its latest report issued on Tuesday said that globally, around 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2018, a 16 per cent decline since 2010, driven mostly by steady progress across most of eastern and southern Africa.

UNAIDS’ Global AIDS Update showed that South Africa, for example, has made huge advances and has successfully reduced new HIV infections by more than 40 per cent and AIDS-related deaths by around 40 per cent since 2010.

The report also revealed that AIDS-related deaths continued to decline as access to treatment continues to expand and more progress is made in improving the delivery of HIV/tuberculosis services.

Since 2010, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 33%, to 770 000 in 2018.

UNAIDS, HIV, Progress
The UNAIDS in its latest report issued on Tuesday said that globally, around 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2018. Pixabay

However, there was still a long way to go in eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV, and there have been worrying increases in new infections in eastern Europe and central Asia (29 per cent), in the Middle East and North Africa (10 per cent) and in Latin America (7 per cent).

The report also said that key populations and their sexual partners now account for more than half (54 per cent) of new HIV infections globally.

In 2018, key populations, including people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and prisoners, accounted for around 95 per cent of new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa.

However, the report showed that less than 50 per cent of key populations were reached with combination HIV prevention services in more than half of the countries that reported.

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This highlighted that key populations were still being marginalized and being left behind in the response to HIV.

“We urgently need increased political leadership to end AIDS,” the report quoted Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, as saying,

“This starts with investing adequately and smartly and by looking at what’s making some countries so successful. Ending AIDS is possible if we focus on people, not diseases, create road maps for the people and locations being left behind, and take a human rights-based approach to reach people most affected by HIV.” (IANS)