Sexual and reproductive health

Shortages of benzathine penicillin. How big is the problem? And why it matters

27 December 2017 | Syphilis is unique among sexually transmitted diseases in that it remains curable with a single dose of penicillin (with no documented risk of resistance), formulated for this purpose as long-acting Benzathine Penicillin G (BPG). WHO estimates that every year, 930 000 pregnant women have probable active syphilis (transmissible during pregnancy) which results in approximately 350 000 adverse birth outcomes (including organ deformities and prematurity) annually. Tragically, neonatal death and stillbirth account for more than half of those adverse birth outcomes.

“The way forward”: Quick, accurate tests to diagnose sexually transmitted infections

STIs consultation in a health center, Papua New Guinea
WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

12 December 2017 | A special supplement to the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections highlights the urgent importance of investing in the research, development and scaling up of the use of point-of-care tests. These innovative tests have a number of important benefits. They can be used in diverse settings by professional and lay health workers alike – and sometimes, even allow people to test themselves. Since they allow people to be tested, diagnosed and treated for STIs in a single visit, they can also help to reduce the burden on health workers and systems and can therefore also reduce expensive laboratory costs.

Six Caribbean islands eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis

Photo

1 December 2017 | Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and St. Kitts and Nevis today received a certificate from the World Health Organization (WHO) that validates their elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

Why talking about sex is good for your health

13 December 2017 | In this funny and eye-opening talk about the challenges we face today with safe sex and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Teodora Elvira Wi shares heartwarming personal stories around sex, STIs and the urgent need to break down the stigma.

Scientists warn that antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea is on the rise

image of youth in park
WHO /Sergey Volkov

07 July 2017: Every day, more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections are acquired worldwide, and each year an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhoea . New data from 77 countries show that antibiotic resistance is making gonorrhoea much harder – and sometimes impossible – to treat.

First global estimates of annual number of neonatal herpes cases

United Nations Photo

31 January 2017 - Neonatal herpes is a rare but potentially devastating complication of genital herpes during pregnancy, which can cause brain damage, breathing problems, seizures and even death. Neonatal herpes infection can occur when an infant is exposed to herpes simplex virus types 1 or 2 (HSV-1 or HSV-2) in a woman’s genital tract during birth. For the first time, researchers from WHO, the University of Bristol, and the University of Washington have published in new estimates The Lancet Global Health that aim to evaluate the approximate global burden of this disease.

WHO launches new treatment guidelines for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis

30 August 2016: More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide. STIs present a major burden of disease and negatively affect people’s well-being across the globe. Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are three STIs which are all caused by bacteria and which can potentially be cured by antibiotics. Unfortunately, these STIs often go undiagnosed and due to antibiotic resistance, they are also becoming increasingly difficult to treat.

Global drug shortage may put pregnant women diagnosed with syphilis at risk

Photo of a pregnant lady from Haiti
Hanna-Truscott/Midwives for Haiti, Photoshare

19 July 2016: Pregnant women who have been diagnosed with syphilis can be cured with an injection of benzathine penicillin, a type of antibiotic which can kill the bacteria and which can also prevent mother-to-child transmission of this infection (congenital syphilis). Newly published evidence shows however, that shortages of benzathine penicillin have been reported by countries where there is high number of pregnant women and infants infected with syphilis.

Mother-to-child transmission of syphilis decreasing but mortality and morbidity remain high

19 July 2016: Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum, and can be transmitted sexually or from mother to child during pregnancy. Left untreated, syphilis can lead to catastrophic fetal outcomes in the second or third trimesters of pregnancy. New 2012 estimates, based on 2008-2012 data, are now available, published in an open access Lancet article. The findings show that in 2012, an estimated 930 000 maternal syphilis infections caused 350 000 adverse pregnancy outcomes including 143 000 early fetal deaths and stillbirths, 62 000 neonatal deaths, 44 000 preterm or low weight births, and 102 000 infected infants worldwide.

fact buffet

Sexually Transmitted Infections

1 millionMore than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide.

Fact sheet on STIs

1 of 4 STIs

357 million Each year, there are an estimated 357 million new infections with 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.

Fact sheet on STIs

Major threat

Drug resistanceDrug resistance, especially for gonorrhoea, is a major threat to reducing the impact of STIs worldwide.

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Monitoring & estimates of STIs

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How talking about sex could end STIs

Teodora Elvira Wi, WHO/HRP

In this funny and eye-opening talk about the challenges we face today with safe sex and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Teodora Elvira Wi shares heartwarming personal stories around sex, STIs and the urgent need to break down the stigma.