Online Dermatologist > WHO report flags major increase in sexually transmitted infections

WHO report flags major increase in sexually transmitted infections

by | May 30, 2024 | Blog, Sexual Health, Uncategorized

global sti epidemic

According to the latest data reports of World Health Organization (WHO), sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are increasing in many parts of the world. With 2.5 million deaths annually, the global HIV, viral hepatitis, gonorrhea, syphilis and other sexually transmitted infection epidemics continue to be the serious public health threats in the today’s society.

Global Increase in STIs


Key Statistics

  • Syphilis: In 2022, the number of new syphilis cases rose by over 1 million, up to 8 million, showing a notable increase. And unfortunately, there had been 230,000 deaths due to syphilis in the same year. There had been an increase in maternal and adult syphilis up to 1 million and associated congenital syphilis, with an annual rate of 523 cases per 100,000 live births during the past COVID-19 pandemic period.
  • Gonorrhea: There is a discernible rise in multi-drug resistant gonorrhea strains and they make treatment attempts more difficult. According to an antimicrobial resistant surveillance done in 2023 among 87 countries, almost 9 countries have shown an increased resistance from 5% to 40% for ceftriaxone which is the final option for gonorrhea treatment.
  • Hepatitis: There were 1.2 million new cases of hepatitis B and 1 million new cases of hepatitis C reported in 2022. Despite the advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention, the estimated mortality toll due to viral hepatitis increased from 1.1 million in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2022.
  • HIV: There were 630,000 deaths due to HIV in 2022. Out of that, almost 13% of deaths are from children under 15 years of age. The reporting of new HIV cases has reduced to 1.3 million in 2022 from 1.5 million in 2020! But still, there is a significantly higher prevalence rate of HIV among five key population groups. They are the individuals in prison, men who engage in sex with men, sex workers, individuals who inject drugs and transgender individuals.  


Regional Insights



Africa appears to have the greatest rate of STIs infections. This is mostly due to the high proportion of untreated infections, inadequate access to healthcare and poor screening programs.  


The number of new cases of syphilis and gonorrhea in the Americas has significantly increased. The urban regions are especially vulnerable, due to the factors such as lack of adequate sexual health education and the rapid urbanization.


Antibiotic resistance is becoming a major problem in Europe, especially in the case of gonorrhea. The emergence of resistance bacteria highlights the need for the early detection and the use of necessary antibiotics. It also forces the discovery of novel strategies for treatment.   


The rates of both bacterial and viral STIs are high in Asia. These infections are prevalent due to the accelerated urbanization, greater density of population and different extents of healthcare availability.

Western Pacific

There is an alarming rise of multi-drug resistant gonorrhea in the Western Pacific Region. It emphasizes that, strong public health policies are required to counteract the antibiotic resistance and enhance the STI control. 


Dermatological Implications


Recognizing Skin Manifestations

  • Syphilis Symptoms: It is essential to recognize the condition early through the skin lesions including rashes, red or pink ulcers and chancre sores.
  • Gonorrhea Symptoms: Rapid identification is necessary for skin presentations such as pustules in transmitted diseases.
  • Hepatitis Symptoms: Itchy spots and rashes with bumps may be the very first signs that come into notice.
  • HIV: Identifying sores and ulcers in genital areas at the early stage may help with controlling the infection properly.


Addressing the Challenges

In order to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends primary health care providers of the countries to further integrate and harmonize disease-specific guidelines, plans and implementation support. Accordingly, effective management of the growing STI load requires improved screening and treatment approaches. So undoubtedly, dermatologists are essential in the early detection of sexually transmitted infections, as they are able to identify the skin symptoms and administer the proper treatment.

Accessible Dermatology Consultations

First Derm is committed to making healthcare accessible and making early detection easier by offering online skin consultations.

With the rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), timely and discreet access to professional medical advice is more crucial than ever.

First Derm provides its users with the luxury of remaining fully anonymous during their consultation. This ensures that users can protect their identity while accessing expert advice from board-certified dermatologists.

The process to get a consultation from a First Derm dermatologist is direct and simple. No account creation, registrations, or signups are required. Simply take a picture of your skin, fill out the form, and send it to our team of board-certified dermatologists.



World Health Organization, “New report flags major increase in sexually transmitted infections, amidst challenges in HIV and hepatitis,” WHO, 24 May 2024. [Online]. Available:—amidst-challenges-in-hiv-and-hepatitis. [Accessed 27 May 2024].

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