Countries urged to update STI treatment

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New guidelines to treat three common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The move comes in response to the growing threat posed by antibiotic resistance which has reduced treatment options for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.

These illnesses affect millions of people worldwide, with more than 130 million infected with chlamydia each year alone.

If left undiagnosed and untreated, they can cause serious complications and long-term health problems in both men and women, including infertility, increased rate of HIV transmission, and even death.

Dianne Penn reports.

The three sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are all caused by bacteria and are generally curable with antibiotics. 

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) says they are becoming harder to treat as some antibiotics are now failing due to misuse and overuse. 

The updated guidelines aim to limit infections, reduce antimicrobial resistance and improve lives. 

They also seek to ensure that patients have the right antibiotic in the right dosage and at the right time. 

Take syphilis, for example, where the most effective treatment is benzathine penicillin, which is administered via a single intramuscular shot in the thigh or buttocks. 

Dr Teodora Wi is a Medical Officer in WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research: 

"The big issue that we have at the moment is there is already a stock out of benzathine penicillin in some countries. And so we urge countries to make sure that benzathine penicillin is available in their countries, and because we know that benzathine penicillin with the new initiatives on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of syphilis and HIV, benzathine penicillin treatment is very crucial to prevent congenital syphilis." 

WHO is urging countries to immediately update their national treatment programmes, and to ensure they have adequate medicines in stock to treat the three illnesses. 

Dianne Penn, United Nations. 

Duration: 1'29"

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November 2017
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