Global epidemiology of sexually transmitted diseases


Dr Carlos T. Da Ros, Urology Department, Mãe de Deus Hospital, Farnese St 94 room 201. Porto Alegre, RS 90450180, Brazil. Tel: +55-51-3330-1101 Fax: +55-51-3378-9996 E-mail:


Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the first ten causes of unpleasant diseases in young adult males in developing countries and the second major cause of unpleasant diseases in young adult women. Adolescents and young adults (15–24 years old) make up only 25% of the sexually active population, but represent almost 50% of all new acquired STDs. In general, STDs are epidemics and present an enormous health and economic consequences. An adequate screening for STDs should be done on a routine basis in every part of the world. Many STDs are asymptomatic and therefore can difficult to control. The purpose of reporting of STDs is to ensure that persons who are infected will be quickly diagnosed and appropriately treated to control the spread of infection and also so that partners are notified, tested and appropriately treated. It is estimated that reported cases of STDs represent only 50%-80% of reportable STD infections in the United States, reflecting limited screening and low disease reporting. High-risk sexual behavior is a highly contributive factor of this process as it often leads to teenage pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. One possible explanation for this behavior is that people do not have enough information about the transmission of STDs or ignore the precautions required for safe sex. Approximately 60% of new HIV infections worldwide occur in young people. The frequency of high-risk behaviors among youths may also be influenced by opportunity to engage in them, particularly the amount of time that they are unsupervised by adults. However, in diagnosing and treating these patients, we can effectively prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Individuals infected with STDs are 5-10 times more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire or transmit HIV through sexual contact. The breaking of the genital tract lining or skin creates a portal of entry for HIV and, hence, HIV-infected individuals with other STDs are more likely to shed HIV in their genital secretions. To date, the condom is the most effective method available for males for protection against STDs. It is important to control STDs, and prevention can be the key of this process. Prevention can be achieved through education of the population, identification of symptomatic and asymptomatic people, and effective diagnosis and treatment of these patients and their partners.