Concern about sexually transmitted diseases is growing: new infections with syphilis have increased. In 2022, 230,000 people died from the bacterial disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is sounding the alarm. The reason: regression in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases. 

Annual new infections with syphilis rose from around 7.1 million in 2020 to 8 million in 2022, the UN agency reported on Tuesday in Geneva. The largest increases were recorded in the Americas and Africa. 230,000 people died from the bacterial disease in 2022. “The rising incidence of syphilis is of grave concern,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

According to his organization’s report, more than a million people are infected with syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia or trichomoniasis every day. These four sexually transmitted diseases are all curable.

From the WHO’s perspective, new HIV infections are also falling too slowly – in 2022 there were 1.3 million, only 200,000 fewer than in 2020. On the other hand, the WHO reported positive progress: around three quarters of all people with HIV are treated with antiretroviral drugs. 

To prevent the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mothers to their children, many countries have already developed health strategies, according to the report.

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