NewsResource Center

WHO Report: Global Increase in Sexually Transmitted Infections

According to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO), epidemics of HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) lead to 2.5 million deaths annually. The report titled “Implementation of global health sector strategies on HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections, 2022–2030” indicates an increase in STIs across many regions.

In 2022, WHO members set an ambitious goal to reduce the annual number of syphilis cases among adults tenfold by 2030, from 7.1 million to 0.71 million. However, new cases of syphilis among adults aged 15-49 increased by more than 1 million in 2022, reaching 8 million. The most significant increases were observed in the Americas and Africa. This, along with insufficient reductions in new cases of HIV and viral hepatitis, jeopardizes the achievement of the corresponding Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

“The increase in syphilis incidence is a serious concern,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Fortunately, significant progress has been made in many other areas, particularly in accelerating access to critically important medical goods, including diagnostics and treatment. We have the tools necessary to end these epidemics as public health threats by 2030, but now we must ensure that countries do everything possible to achieve the ambitious goals they have set.”

Four curable STIs – syphilis (Treponema pallidum), gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae), chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis), and trichomoniasis (Trichomonas vaginalis) – lead to over 1 million infections daily. The report notes a surge in adult and maternal syphilis cases (1.1 million) and associated congenital syphilis (523 cases per 100,000 live births per year) during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, there were 230,000 deaths related to syphilis. New data also show an increase in multi-drug-resistant gonorrhea. As of 2023, of the 87 countries conducting enhanced surveillance for antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhea, 9 reported increased levels (from 5% to 40%) of resistance to ceftriaxone, the last line of treatment for gonorrhea. WHO is monitoring the situation and has updated its treatment recommendations to reduce the spread of this multi-drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea.

In 2022, approximately 1.2 million new cases of hepatitis B and nearly 1 million new cases of hepatitis C were recorded. The estimated number of deaths from viral hepatitis increased from 1.1 million in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2022, despite effective means of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

To view the report: