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Dr. Christopher Tzermias

Dermatologist – Venereologist

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Risks related to the increased rate of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The number of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) shows a sharp increase.

Figures for 2014 showed a 10% increase in genital warts in the UK within a year, while the corresponding figures for syphilis infections is 46%, for gonorrhoea there is an increase by 32%, and for chlamydia 26%.

Public Health England in a relevant report mentions condomless sexual contact as a really important risk factor, with clear implications on the increased frequency of SMNs.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that when the population of the UK is examined as a whole SMNs show a slight decrease as compared to 2013’s figures, with chlamydia diagnosis accounting for almost half of the cases, these numbers are quite different when only gay men are included in the analysis. More specifically, syphilis infections increased from 2375 to 3477, chlamydia diagnoses increased from 9118 to 11468, and gonorrhoea, which is one of the biggest worries due to the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of the infection that are very hard to treat, increased from 13629 to 18029 cases. Similar figures are evident for genital warts, with a significant increase of the diagnoses from 3,156 to 3,456.

As far as Greece is concerned, the data of the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control & Prevention published in 2014 provide evidence that syphilis, gonorrhoea and genital warts are among the STIs showing the greatest increases, together with certain dermatological conditions, such as pediculosis and scabies. The number of cases seems to have doubled between 2006 and 2011.

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The provision of proper information and awareness raising regarding unprotected sex seems to be the cornerstone for the prevention of STIs, so that people are reminded of the risks of unprotected sex in order to adopt safer behaviours.

Of equal importance is ensuring easy access to sexual health services to promote early and proper diagnosis of STDs. Gay men, who belong to a high risk group, should have diagnostic exams on a regular annual basis, or even every three months in case of sex without a condom.

Today new technologies and approaches have been developed to inform everybody about both the prevention and the timely treatment of STDs. This can help in reducing the rapidly increasing transmission of STDs observed in the last decade.

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