The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there are over one million sexually
transmitted infections (STIs) acquired every day worldwide by citizens through
sexual contacts and other body fluid transmission.
The apex health agency further revealed that more than 500 million people 15–49
years are estimated to have genital infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV or
STIs have a profound impact on sexual and reproductive health globally through
stigmatization, infertility, cancers, and pregnancy complications and can increase
the risk of HIV, as virtually 1 million pregnant women were estimated to be
infected with syphilis in 2016, resulting in over 350 000 adverse birth outcomes.
In a recent review by the agency as published on its website, it stated that more
than 30 different bacteria, viruses and parasites are known to be transmitted
through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Some STIs can also
be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth and
“Not forgetting the emerging outbreaks of latest infections that can be acquired by
sexual contacts such as monkeypox, Shigella sonnei, Neisseria meningitides,
Ebola, Zika, and the emergence of neglected STIs such as lymphogranuloma
“There are eight pathogens that are linked to the most significant incidence of
STIs. Of these, 4 are currently curable: syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and
trichomoniasis. The other 4 are incurable viral infections: hepatitis B, herpes
simplex virus (HSV), HIV, and human papillomavirus (HPV)”, the statement
The WHO however acknowledged that drug resistance is a major threat to
reducing the burden of STIs worldwide as these herald increasing challenges in the
provision of adequate services for STIs prevention and control
Some of the serious consequences of STIs beyond the immediate impact of the
the infection themselves are herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis can increase the risk of HIV
acquisition; HPV infection causes cervical and other cancers: Mother-to-child
transmission of STIs can result in stillbirth, neonatal death, low-birth weight and
prematurity, sepsis, neonatal conjunctivitis, and congenital deformities.
Prevention of STIs
It recommends effective and consistent use of condoms, saying it offers protection
against STIs, including HIV. Although highly effective, condoms do not offer
protection for STIs that cause extra-genital ulcers (i.e., syphilis or genital herpes).
When possible, condoms should be used in all vaginal and anal sex.
Furthermore, WHO says safe and highly powerful vaccines are available for 2 viral
STIs: hepatitis B and HPV. These vaccines have represented major advances in
STI prevention. To eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem globally,
high coverage targets for HPV vaccination, screening and treatment of
precancerous lesions, and management of cancer must be reached by 2030 and
maintained at this high level for decades.