GLOBAL – World Health Organization has released a new report highlighting the ongoing global health challenges posed by HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which continue to result in approximately 2.5 million deaths annually.

Titled “Implementing the Global Health Sector Strategies on HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2022–2030,” the report sheds light on concerning trends in STIs and their implications for public health.

The report reveals a worrisome surge in STIs across various regions, with syphilis infections among adults aged 15-49 years increasing by over 1 million in 2022 alone, reaching a total of 8 million cases. 

Particularly notable were the significant rises observed in the Region for the Americas and the African Region. 

This rise in STIs substantially threatens achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to public health by 2030.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed profound concern over the escalating incidence of syphilis, emphasizing the urgent need for action.

Dr Tedros highlighted the importance of recent advancements in enhancing access to critical health commodities such as diagnostics and treatment, emphasizing that while tools exist to combat these epidemics by 2030, concerted efforts are required from countries worldwide to meet ambitious targets.

The report further highlights alarming statistics regarding other STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. 

Notably, cases of multi-resistant gonorrhea have seen a worrying increase, with nine countries reporting elevated levels of resistance to ceftriaxone, the last line of treatment for gonorrhea.

Additionally, the report draws attention to the ongoing challenges posed by viral hepatitis and HIV. 

Despite effective prevention, diagnosis, and treatment tools, new cases of hepatitis B and C continue to be recorded, contributing to an estimated 1.3 million deaths from viral hepatitis in 2022. 

New HIV infections only reduced from 1.5 million in 2020 to 1.3 million in 2022. Five key population groups — men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender individuals, and individuals in prisons and other closed settings — still experience significantly higher HIV prevalence rates than the general population.” WHO highlights in the report. 

Despite these challenges, the report also highlights significant progress in expanding access to STI, HIV, and hepatitis services globally.

Efforts to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis have shown promising results, with 19 countries validated for their progress in this area. 

Moreover, countries such as Botswana and Namibia are making strides towards eliminating HIV transmission.

In light of these findings, the report outlines key recommendations for countries to strengthen their efforts, including policy dialogues to develop investment cases and sustainability plans, enhanced disease-specific guidance within a primary healthcare framework, and intensified efforts to combat stigma and discrimination.

As the world strives to achieve ambitious public health targets by 2030, the report underscores the need for increased political will and commitment to accelerate progress across all disease areas.

The report will be discussed at the upcoming Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly, highlighting the urgency of addressing these pressing global health challenges.

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