The sexually transmitted infections (STIs) They have been on the rise for a long time. In the last five years, they have grown by 84% in Spain, led by HIV, chlamydia and gonococcal infections, according to the consulting firm Cegedim Health Data Spain. First, because the population live your sexuality more freely and with less fear than before. And, secondly, because now they are detected more than before. Still, experts call “strengthen prevention”. “And this doesn’t happen just by using the preservativebut you have to do tests, screening in asymptomatic people. This is a very powerful first line of work”, says Jorge Baroja, director of the NGO Youth Center for Sexuality Care (CJAS), in Barcelona.
This idea is also insisted on by Dr. George Garcia, specialist doctor in HIV and STIs in the Drassanes unit, dependent on the Vall d’Hebron Hospital (Barcelona) and a reference in Catalonia. “A great tool to prevent is the STI screening. If the population were tested more frequently, we would avoid transmission and we would eliminate asymptomatic infections. For that we need the population to want to take these tests and, also, that public health responds”, Garcia points out, aware as he is that means are scarce.
In the last five years, STIs have grown by 84% in Spain, according to the consulting firm Cegedim Health Data
That is why much of the STI screening focuses on men who have sex with men. “When society has some limited resources, the most vulnerable groups are sought. It has more effect to do a screening in a certain population than in another. But obviously [estos cribados] they should be more within reach of all citizens. For that there have to be more centers and more resources,” points out this toilet.
Inform sexual partners
Screening is not the only tool to prevent STIs. The contact Study, as initially demonstrated in the covid-19 pandemic and now in the monkeypox epidemic, it is a great control strategy. García insists on the importance of a person recently diagnosed with an STI notifying their sexual partners. But it is not always easy. “Needed awareness and de-stigmatization campaigns. To this day it is still very difficult to tell a person you have been with that you have gonorrhea. It can cause a conflict. But contact study is a very useful tool,” he notes.
Also important is the vaccination. In this sense, Catalonia will include, starting this school year, vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) in male students that they curse sixth grade, from 11 to 12 years old, as announced by the Ministry of Health last May. In addition, Catalonia, like the rest of the autonomous communities, is preventively vaccinating against monkeypox for people considered to be among the priority groups: men who have sex with other men and be in pre-exposure proxy programs (Prep) and in prevention programs for people who already have HIV.
The Prep, popularly known as the anti-AIDS pill, is financed by the Ministry of Health and is taken by men who have sex without a condom with men before sexual intercourse. It is another control tool. And lastly, as García recalls, it is important “live without fear”. “Because if you are afraid, you hide your head like an ostrich, and you don’t go to the health system for help,” ditch.