STI Rates

STI Rates

STI Rates: The Facts from the World Health Organization


Last December, the World Health Organization published an up-to-date fact sheet on rates of sexually transmitted infections across the world – and it contained some shocking numbers.


The WHO estimates that there are 1 million STIs acquired across the world every day. The four most common non-viral STIs are trichomonas, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis, which account for over 350 million new infections every single year.


500 million people are estimated to be living with genital herpes, and 290 million women with the human papillomavirus (which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer).


In response to these numbers, the World Health Organization has made promises to scale-up effective STI services and to promote safe sex around the world.


In the UK, the total number of STIs in 2015 decreased by 3% from 2014 – but it’s still important to continue educating ourselves on the risks associated with unsafe sex.


Three Common STIs


According to the latest report from Public Health England, the three most common sexually transmitted infections in England in 2015 were chlamydia, genital warts, and gonorrhoea.




Chlamydia is a bacterial STI that can be treated with a short course of antibiotics. It is often symptomless – particularly in women – but when symptoms do arise they include:


Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.


Genital Warts


Genital warts are small, painless fleshy growths that develop around the genital area. They can grow:



You can have genital warts removed by a doctor or by applying certain creams or lotions. However, as they are caused by an incurable virus, they may return. Commonly prescribed treatments include Warticon and Aldara.




Gonorrhoea is another bacterial STI that can normally be cleared up with a course of antibiotics. Symptoms include:



Herpes, HIV, Syphilis & Trichomonas


Along with the three most common STIs listed above, it’s also a good idea to be aware of genital herpes, HIV, syphilis and trichomonas.


Genital herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact during sex. It leads to outbreaks of sore, red blisters around the genitals and – because it is not permanently curable – tends to return in episodes which diminish in severity over time.


HIV is most commonly contracted during unprotected anal or vaginal sex. It slowly attacks the immune system and, left untreated, can lead to AIDS. However, with the correct treatment HIV-positive people can live a long and relatively healthy life.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics. It initially causes a sore on the genitals or site of the infection. The secondary phase usually includes a rash, multiple sores and flu-like symptoms. After this it can be symptomless for many years. If left to progress untreated, syphilis can cause meningitis, stroke and dementia.


Trichomonas is an STI that can be effectively treated with antibiotics. In women, it can cause unusual vaginal discharge that smells fishy or is frothy or green in colour. It can also cause discharge from the penis in men, and lead to inflammation and soreness around the genitals in both genders.


Getting Tested


When it comes to STIs, it’s important to remember two key factors:



If you’re having sex with multiple partners and/or you’re practising unsafe sex with anyone who could have an STI. You should get tested for infections regularly.


You can get screened via the NHS or by using a private service - there are now a number of online providers from which to choose.