sexually transmitted infections In Spain people are going through an emerging phase, similar to the geometric progression in the case of gonorrhea and an apparently uncontrolled increase in syphilis, although of lesser magnitude, which are two pathologies of this type that are included in the online Carlos III Health Institute. Epidemiology Bulletin of.
According to that formula, The infection of both these diseases has tripled. Over four years, cases have risen from 8,327 recorded in 2019 to 27,064 in the first ten months of this year, a figure that, if progress continues, will clearly top 30,000 and quadruple those records. Will reach close to.
Both cases saw a clear decline in 2020 reducing sexual contacts As a result of confinement and mobility restrictions due to the pandemic, gonorrhea infections doubled in 2022, returning to levels similar to 2019 in 2021 and, from there, skyrocketing and will do so again this year. year, while those syphilis series increase by 41% and, with two months remaining, increase by 23%.
This explosion of sexually transmitted infections, which Only gonorrhea (67) and syphilis (24) have more than 90 daily cases, This also occurs in other pathologies such as chlamydia, which reached 25,000 reported episodes after a 21% increase last year, while others such as HIV, lymphogranuloma venereum and hepatitis B They maintain a very low prevalence, with a few hundred positives in each case.
What is the reason for this increase? “There are not just one but many factors that could be causing this increase,” he explains. javier de la fuenteHead of the Internal Medicine Service at the Ribera de Vigo Hospital and member of the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Working Group of SEMI (Spanish Society of Internal Medicine).
Among others, the three major ones are: Greatest ease in having sex, which has something to do with the increasing use of applications that facilitate it; Greater frequency of risky practices, often related to recreational use of psychoactive substances Such as alcohol and drugs, which generally reduce levels of alertness, and also reduced use of physical preventive methods such as condoms.
“Infections are increasing dramatically, and more so among men than among women,” he indicated. A ratio of five to one for gonorrhea and nine to one for syphilis., “Both of these are more prevalent in men aged 25 to 45 who have sex with men, while chlamydia is much more prevalent in women under the age of 25,” he said.
“Customs regarding sexual relations have changed, way to keep themexperts say.
It is paradigmatic in this development The progression of the age at which a person has sex for the first time With sexual intercourse: According to the latest HBSC study (Health Behavior of School Children) of the Ministry of Health, with data from 2018, about 30% of adolescents start before the age of fifteen and a similar figure in each of the next two years Is.
Errors and fraud that increase risk
False sense of security and lack of information Risk of some practices due to inexperienceIn the age of technology, other factors influencing the increase in infections are also emerging.
“Overcoming a sexually transmitted disease does not mean no immunity”
javier de la fuente
“Low risk perception is a component that creates Adequate preventive measures are not taken” explains Dr. de la Fuente, who describes a clear change in trend: a decline until 2001, when after AIDS awareness, with episodes such as world stars contagion Like Magic Johnson or Freddie Mercury and with campaigns like that «put it on, put it on that«, the prevalence of STIs fell to 2.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and increased from there to more than thirty today.
One of the most deeply rooted frauds refers to supposed vaccination, which, along with other forms of distemper, supposedly produces contagion. ,Overcoming a sexually transmitted disease does not mean no immunity, He warns, “Anyone who has had syphilis once can get it again.”
Second, PREP, refers to drug-based pre-exposure prophylaxis To avoid HIV infection, “It is very suitable for HIV, but not for other STIs,” he clarifies, highlighting another fact.
“According to a study by the Ministry of Health, 1.5% of people suffering from sexually transmitted diseases may be HIV carriers,” apparently a low rate but when applied to the reported cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia in the past year. This is equivalent to 780 situations of duplicate risk.
Health system diagnoses its own shortcomings
In any case, and according to a recent report from the Ministry of Health, citizens are not the only vector that favors infection, because There appear to be serious deficiencies in health systems When addressing STIs.
“Limitations in opening hours, the need for appointments and anonymity can mean a lack of attention Barriers to access to STI care For some groups of particular vulnerability,” the document said, highlighting the diversity of care models, including “Monographic hospital consultation dependent on specialized care”And there is very little involvement of primary care services and community medicine.
It also includes “deficiencies arising from the lack of resources and dedicated personnel” to care for this type of pathology and, “Poor representation of other business sectors.” In the area of STI care outside medical and nursing professionals.”
Finally, the health document proposes “measures to take” Increase access to STI care for vulnerable groups through measures such as making opening hours more flexible or the possibility of receiving anonymous care, as well as “strengthening epidemiological surveillance (…) Increase in personal and material resources To conduct effective epidemiological notification and contact tracing.