STI cases rising by 1 million per day, World Health Organization says

1 in 4 people worldwide infected; a new medical report expresses concern

By Chloe Walker - Associate producer

More than one million new cases of four sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are contracted every day and that’s just for people aged 15-49, according to figures released Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The four infections are chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis or "trich" and syphilis, with the WHO finding on average that one in every 25 people globally has at least one of these STIs, sometimes known as STDs.

The figures, collected worldwide from men and women between the ages of 15 and 49, show that in 2016 there were an estimated 127 million new chlamydia cases, 156 million trichomoniasis infections, 87 million gonorrhea cases and 6.3 million cases of syphilis.

Dr. Peter Salama, executive director for Universal Health Coverage and the Life-Course at WHO, expressed concern that there has not been enough global progress in stopping the spread of STIs.

“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,” Salama said.

Lead author of the report said the over 376 million new annual cases of new and repeating infections shows many are not taking necessary precautions.

"These infections indicate people are taking risks with their health, with their sexuality and with their reproductive health," said Dr. Melanie Taylor, a medical epidemiologist at the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research.

If untreated, the infections can lead to other health concerns for children and adults such as neurological and cardiovascular disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirths, and increased risk of HIV. In 2016, Syphilis caused approximately 200,000 stillbirths and newborn deaths, making the infection the leading global cause for infant deaths that year.

The stigma surrounding STIs is also associated with cases of domestic violence.

STIs are transmitted sexually through physical oral or genital contact. Some can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy and birth. Syphilis can also be spread through contact with infected blood.

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