Sexual and reproductive health

Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections

A WHO-sponsored Collection in PLOS Medicine

27 DECEMBER 2017: A collection of freely-available journal articles has been published in PLOS that looks at current issues around the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Photo montage

Guest editors

Dr Nathalie Broutet

Nathalie Broutet is a medical doctor with a PhD in infectious diseases epidemiology and public health. She works at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Prof Nicola Low

Nicola Low is a professor of epidemiology and public health and Director of Research at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland.

The numbers of people affected by STIs are staggering. More than 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites lead to over 1 million sexually transmitted infections each day. Annually, there are an estimated 131 million chlamydia infections, 78 million gonorrhea infections, 5.6 million syphilis infections and 143 million trichomoniasis infections. These infections can, at present, be treated with existing antibiotic regimens. Antimicrobial resistance, however, is a growing threat, particularly for gonorrhea and Mycoplasma genitalium The most prevalent viral STIs are genital herpes simplex virus infection (affecting an estimated 500 million people worldwide) and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection (affecting 290 million women and leading to some 500,000 cases of cervical cancer annually).

These infections, when not treated, take their toll in grievous outcomes—notably cancer deaths, infertility, and birth complications including stillbirth. STIs are also pernicious, due to causal pathogens with diverse characteristics, social stigma that limits care-seeking, and commonly mild or nonexistent symptoms.

WHO sponsored Collection

Decisive action will be an essential part of efforts to meet the health component of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the targets of the global health sector strategy on sexually transmitted infections 2016–2021 This WHO-sponsored Collection brings together a wide variety of articles that discuss what is known about addressing global policy and practice aimed at achieving control of STIs. The collection will continue with further research and discussion articles appearing over the next few weeks.

Articles availabe from the Collection

Health care provider perspectives on managing sexually transmitted infections in HIV care settings in Kenya: A qualitative thematic analysis. NEW

Internet-accessed sexually transmitted infection (e-STI) testing and results service: A randomised, single-blind, controlled trial. NEW

Dual-strain genital herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection in the US, Peru, and 8 countries in sub-Saharan Africa: A nested cross-sectional viral genotyping study. NEW

Health care provider perspectives on managing sexually transmitted infections in HIV care settings in Kenya: A qualitative thematic analysis. NEW

The prevalence and incidence of active syphilis in women in Morocco, 1995-2016: Model-based estimation and implications for STI surveillance. August 2017

Interventions to address unequal gender and power relations and improve self-efficacy and empowerment for sexual and reproductive health decision-making for women living with HIV: A systematic review. August 2017

Multidrug-resistant gonorrhea: A research and development roadmap to discover new medicines. July 2017

Antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae: Global surveillance and a call for international collaborative action. July 2017

Assessing process, content and politics in developing the global health sector strategy on sexually transmitted infections 2016-2021: implementation opportunities for policymakers. June 2017

Elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis (EMTCT): Process, progress, and program integration. June 2017

Pathways and progress to enhanced global sexually transmitted infection surveillance. June 2017

Vaccination to prevent HPV infections: From promise to practice. June 2017

Costing of National STI Program Implementation for the Global STI Control Strategy for the Health Sector, 2016-2021. January 2017

TEDx Talks

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.