Background Sexually transmitted infections and HIV represent a major public health challenge in European Union/European Economic Area. In 2011, 346911 chlamydia, 39179 gonorrhoea, 28038 HIV and 19798 syphilis cases were reported to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Improving prevention efforts is therefore a priority, especially among populations groups that are most vulnerable to infection, including young people, MSM, migrants and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Methods A mapping exercise of European sexual health data, programmes, initiatives and policies was conducted aiming to increase the understanding of how HIV/STI can be prevented in the general population and among vulnerable population groups.
Results Synergies and gaps in the availability of data and in policies and programming were identified across EU/EEA. Eleven countries ever adopted a national sexual health strategy and 24 implemented a national HIV/STI prevention strategy. Specific HIV/STI prevention strategies targeting vulnerable groups were identified for: young people (24 countries), MSM (22 countries), sex workers (19 countries), migrants (20 countries) and injecting drug users (24 countries). National surveys on sexual knowledge, attitude and practise were conducted in general population by 19 countries. Eighteen countries collect data on sexual health in MSM, 9 in PLHIV and 6 in migrants. Sexuality education is mandatory in 20 countries. In the last 5 years, 24 Member States conducted HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns.
Conclusions The following mechanisms are considered to support Member States and to promote a comprehensive approach for HIV/STI prevention in the context of sexual health: endorse synergy between European bodies and NGOs in regards to data collection, reporting and publication; development of a standardised set of indicators for collecting comparable data; development of an evidence-based framework to allow countries to evaluate their sexual health interventions; facilitate communication among (inter)national experts through a dedicated sexual health platform.
- sexual health