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WHO global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: time for action
  1. D A Lewis1,
  2. A S Latif2,
  3. F Ndowa3
  1. 1Sexually Transmitted Infections Reference Centre, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NHLS), South Africa
  2. 2School of Public Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia and Consultant World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office, Manila, Philippines
  3. 3Controlling Sexually Transmitted and Reproductive Tract Infections, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to:
 D A Lewis
 STI Reference Centre National Institute of Communicable Diseases Private Bag X4 Sandringham 2131, South Africa; davidl{at}

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STI health professionals should use every opportunity to influence those able to initiate change to improve global STI control and prevention activities

Worldwide, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continue to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Global estimates suggest that more than 340 million new cases of syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydial infection and trichomoniasis occurred throughout the world in 1999.1 Congenital syphilis, prevention of which is relatively easy and cost-effective, may still be responsible for as many as 14% of neonatal deaths.2 Up to 10% of those women who are untreated, or inadequately treated, for chlamydial and gonococcal infections may become infertile as a consequence.2 On a global scale, up to 4000 newborn babies each year may become blind because of gonococcal and chlamydial ophthalmia neonatorum.2

There is evidence that STIs may enhance both the transmission and acquisition of HIV infection, and that improved control of STIs may slow down HIV transmission.3 The prevention and control of STIs is not an easy task. Epidemiological patterns of STIs vary geographically and are influenced by cultural, political, economical and social forces. Many affected by STIs are in marginalised vulnerable groups. The asymptomatic nature of some STIs remains a challenge to healthcare providers in areas of the world where laboratory screening tests are unaffordable.

The World Health Organization’s “Global Strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015” was presented to Member States at the 59th World Health Assembly in May 2006. The World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Strategy and urged member states to adopt and draw on …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.