Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) impact greatly on people’s health. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that annually more than 69 million new cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa of the main STIs, other than HIV: Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas vaginalis, Treponema pallidum (syphilis) and herpes simplex virus type 2. These infections not only impact negatively on sexual and reproductive health, but are also related to spontaneous abortion, disease in newborns and facilitation of HIV transmission.
For two infections, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Mycoplasma genitalium, the emergence of drug-resistance constitute a global threat. To address this neglected burden of disease, the WHO launched the Global STI Strategy at the STI & HIV World Congress held in Rio de Janeiro in July 2017. In line with the recent South African National Strategic Plan, that includes STI indicators, Anova is committed to addressing the burden of STIs in Africa.
Anova’s Prof Remco Peters, a leading expert in STIs, attended this meeting and participated in various high-level discussions on ways and best practices on how to address the burden of STIs in Africa. Lack of M&E and surveillance data constitutes an important barrier to the successful roll-out of STI programmes in Africa. Anova presented data at the conference that shows a high prevalence and incidence of STIs among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Johannesburg. A follow-up project is underway.
Prof Peters also presented data on the occurrence and risk factors of STIs in women living in rural Mopani District including novel data that show that a more virulent strain of Chlamydia trachomatis, “the L-biovar” also called lymphogranuloma venereum, circulates among South African women. These presentations underline the importance and high priority to address the burden of STIs. In line with global and local efforts, Anova continues to lead the way in supporting STI care in South Africa through clinical excellence and research.