Increase in sexually transmitted infections: STIs often obscured by HIV
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    Increase in sexually transmitted infections: STIs often obscured by HIV

    The latest figures from the Scientific Institute of Public Health (ISP) show that ther has been an increase in the number of cases of sexually transmitted infections.  According to other associations working in the sexual health field, this could due to the lack of knowledge concerning STIs. HIV has somewhat overshadowed other existing STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis. These diseases often do not show symptoms. Patients ignore any signs and spread the infection unknowingly “pointed out the director of the AIDS Prevention Platform, Thierry Martin. Those in charge of the AIDS Prevention Platform and of the non-profit organization Sida’sos state that the increase of  STIs in Belgium can clearly be seen by the growing number of positive screenings. This increase could especially be due to a lack of information on STIs.

    The results of the ISP survey show that between 2002 and 2013 chlamydia cases have tripled in Brussels, from 31.1 to 99.1 per 100,000. Cases of gonorrhea are also rising and ,according to figures released by Le Soir on Thursday, syphilis has increased tenfold in Brussels between 2002 and 2013: 2.6 to 28.4 cases per 100,000 people.

    “In our campaigns, we try to bring the focus back on STIs.  People need to be informed of the risks of these diseases as well as how to detect them. Too many young people between the ages of 15 to 30 do not know that blood tests only cover HIV, hepatitis and syphilis. It is essential to screen for other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea using urine tests for men and gynecological (smear) for women, “insists Celine Danhier of Sida’sos.

    The Director of the AIDS Platform highlights the need to continue prevention “efforts despite budget constraints and the regionalization of skills.” “Access to testing must be facilitated. Physicians should be better trained to deal with the risks of STIs and questions from their patients,” says Martin. Sida’sos  is calling for prevention measures together with actions on the field. “Dialogue always has more of an impact than a simple poster,” says Ms Danhier.

    Sarah Johansson (Source: Belga)