A staggering new figure from the World Health Organization reveals that more than 1 million people contract curable sexually transmitted infections globally every single day.
The report, published Thursday, gathered data on the four STIs that make up 376 million new cases annually: chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and syphilis. Trichomoniasis, which is a parasitic infection contracted during sexual intercourse, is the most common STI, making up 156 million cases among men and women ages 15 to 49 in 2016 (the year with the most recent available data).
Each of the infections is treatable and curable. However, a lack of education surrounding STIs ― as well as the fact that in many cases a person does not experience symptoms when they contract one of them ― is troublesome. According to WHO, a global shortage of penicillin and a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea pose a threat as well.
The health consequences of leaving these STIs untreated can be serious ― they include potential for infertility, neurological and cardiovascular disease and stillbirth. The information was released as part of WHOs mission to eradicate sexually transmitted infections as a public health concern by 2030, citing an improved quality of care, new treatments and vaccine development as part of its plan to do so.
Peter Salama, executive director for universal health coverage and the life-course at WHO, explained in the report why it’s so important to spread this awareness.
“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,” he said in the statement.
Techniques for prevention and treatment of STIs sound simple, but whether due to one’s own stigma surrounding them or lack of knowledge, often times those methods are ignored. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, methods include vaccinations for issues like the human papillomavirus (or HPV) and hepatitis B, using protection by way of condoms and reducing your number of partners.
Specific testing, of course, for these STIs and others, is also a solid line of defense. Knowing that, whatever the diagnosis may be, an infection is curable or treatable is helpful when asking your doctor to be tested. You can talk to your physician about getting checked for STIs, or visit the American Sexual Health Association to locate a health provider near you.