Chlamydia and gonorrhea “cause” sexually transmitted diseases among people under 25 in the Basque Country

The number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continues to rise in the Basque Country, with gonorrhea and chlamydia the most common diseases, especially among the population under 25 years of age. The Osakidets in recent hours warned that these pathologies “have exploded since 2020 and are becoming a global public health problem. In particular, the number of gonococcal infections has tripled since his incarceration, and the number of chlamydia cases has also doubled since then.

Last year, 1,484 cases of chlamydia infection and 1,109 cases of gonorrhea were diagnosed at the Osakidets Special Consultation on Sexually Transmitted Infections, as stated in the report of the AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Control Plan 2023 reported by the Ministry of Health announced this Monday. The Basque Health Service also identified 274 cases of syphilis. “Based on this report, although the incidence of chlamydia and gonococcal infection has been gradually increasing in recent years, it has increased sharply since 2021,” the report itself admits.

As for the first sexually transmitted disease, its incidence increased from 57.55 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020 to 106.93 last year. A similar trend was observed for the other two infections: the incidence of gonorrhea increased from 27.55 cases to 79.07, and syphilis from 11.46 to 14.48 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The Ministry of Health adds that most cases of infection are detected among the population under the age of 25. So much so that it ensures that while STIs affect people of all genders and ages, these young people constitute a “particularly vulnerable” group.

Thus, in the case of chlamydia, the highest rate is in the age group from 20 to 24 years (527.98 cases per 100,000 inhabitants), followed by the group from 25 to 34 years (408.88 per 100,000 inhabitants). Something similar happens with gonorrhea: the rate is 361.74 cases per 100,000 in the 20 to 24 age group and 297.72 in the 25 to 34 age group.

Both chlamydia and gonorrhea or syphilis can be contracted through sex without a condom with someone who has been infected through sexual contact, vaginal or oral sex. In most cases, the symptoms of the three diseases are similar – increased vaginal discharge, penile discharge and itching when urinating – and a large percentage of infected people usually do not show symptoms, so early detection is important. it is important to break the chain of transmission.

For this reason, Osakidetsa reminds us that it is important to receive specific treatment as soon as possible, since the infection can cause complications and serious health problems if left untreated. Usually, an antibiotic is sufficient to treat the infection.

HIV is also on the rise

An increasing trend is common to all sexually transmitted infections in recent years in the Basque Country, although their incidence has risen sharply since the outbreak of the coronavirus health crisis. This also extrapolates to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Osakidetza identified 134 cases of the disease last year, seven more than the previous year and 22% more than in 2020. Since 1997, the Basque Health Service has identified 4,307 cases of the disease in Euskadi.

All these pathologies are also more common in men than in women. Almost eight out of every ten new HIV cases occur in men, with an average age of 36 years. Thus, transmission from men who have sex with men remains predominant, accounting for 56.8% of all new diagnoses, while transmission through heterosexual contact is 34.3%.

Added to all this is that almost two out of every three new infections are from people from other countries, mainly Latin America and Africa, which account for more than half of the new cases detected, according to the report released this Monday. . The report also warned that more than half of people infected with human immunodeficiency virus had a late diagnosis.

In this context, Osakidetza treated 6,351 patients with antiretroviral treatment last year (6,214 in 2022) at a cost of €18,897,090, an increase of 6.7% compared to the previous year. In addition, in November 2019, an HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program was launched, targeting healthy people at high risk of HIV infection who are prescribed HIV preventive treatment (tenofovir disoproxil + emtricitabine). Over these 4 years, the number of people receiving preventive treatment with these drugs increased from 237 in 2020 to 981 last year.

Faced with this “complex reality,” the department, led by Gotsone Sagardui, insists that sexual health education “is a fundamental axis” of action. For this reason, the departments of health and education are already working together to “update and improve” the sex education curriculum, with the intention of introducing it in the next school year, which begins in September.

In this area, the Euskadi AIDS and STI Plan has disseminated the “HIV, STI and Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Program” in schools, aimed at preventing risks associated with sexuality, in which 141 educational centers have participated in the current school year. (up from 115 the previous year), with nearly 15,000 students participating, up from 9,500 last year.

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