A rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Belgium could be caused by a lack of common diagnosis methods, according to the Federal Center for Health Care Expertise (KCE) In order to help with this, a practical clinical guide has been developed to help diagnose and treat gonorrhoea and syphilis, the KCE announced Tuesday.
Such a tool, intended mainly for general practitioners, did not yet exist in Belgium. Another guide will be published for chlamydia, as these three STIs become more and more prevalent in Belgium.
“The number of STI cases is climbing alarmingly in Belgium, as in the rest of the world, ” warns KCE. Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are the three first places on the podium.
Chlamydia infection, diagnosed mainly in young women, accounts for half of all new STIs. Thus, the number of cases of chlamydia rose from 9.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2002 to 60.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016. Syphilis is also gaining ground since with 46 cases in 2002 compared to 943 in 2016.
These diseases usually go unnoticed, preventing treatment and thus promoting their spread. However, they can lead to serious complications, infertility or repeated miscarriages says the centre. To make matters worse, while these STIs can be treated with antibiotics, increased resistance “due to irresponsible use of these drugs” make its treatment more difficult.