Ministry of Health reports an alarming increase in sexually transmitted diseases

  • Canarian Weekly
  • 28-01-2024
  • National
  • Photo Credit: Pexels
Ministry of Health reports an alarming increase in sexually transmitted diseases

In the past year, the Canary Islands have witnessed a staggering surge in cases of syphilis, with more reported here than in any other region of Spain. According to the "Informe de Vigilancia Epidemiológica de las Infecciones de Transmisión Sexual" published by the Ministry of Health, the Canary Islands recorded 33.47 cases of syphilis per 100,000 inhabitants last year.

Spain experienced its highest syphilis rate since 1995, with a total of 8,141 reported cases in 2022. Following the Canary Islands, other regions with elevated incidence rates included Madrid (25.93), Catalonia (24.75), and the Balearic Islands (24.67). Conversely, regions with the lowest incidence were Aragon (2.58), Rioja (3.16), and Castilla La Mancha (4.57).

Syphilis cases are higher in men (31.32) compared to women (3.73), with the most affected age group being 25 to 34, exhibiting a rate of 48.68 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The broader data on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 2022 revealed an alarming increase in cases. Gonococcal or gonorrhoea infections increased from 14,862 cases in the previous year to 23,333 cases. Similarly, chlamydia cases rose from 20,638 to 26,518 during the same period.

The overall trajectory indicates a sharp escalation in STI cases over the past two decades. In 1995, only 4,599 cases of gonorrhoea and 1,010 cases of syphilis were reported, with chlamydia data available from 2016, showing 7,239 cases compared to 26,518 in 2022.

STD cases are much higher in men compared to women

Breaking down gonorrhoea rates by age, the highest incidences were observed in the 20-24 age group (198.23) and the 25-34 age group (167.60). Males consistently recorded higher rates than females across all age groups, with 81.31 cases per 100,000 population for males compared to 19.59 for females.

Of the reported cases, 46.3% (10,749 cases) provided information on the transmission route. Among these, 21.6% involved homosexual men, 5.5% heterosexual men, 18.1% heterosexual women, 51.6% men with unspecified sexual transmission, and 3.1% women with unspecified sexual transmission.

Regarding HIV status, 3.4% (787) of cases were positive, 10.4% (2,408) were negative, 31.6% (7,336) had not been tested, and 54.9% (12,802) had no available information.

Regarding Chlamydia Trachomatis, the period from 2016 to 2022 saw increasing rates in all autonomous communities reporting cases, reaching 62.38 cases per 100,000 residents in 2022. Women represented 48.2% (12,792 cases) of those affected, with a median age at diagnosis of 27.

The report also revealed a surge in venereal lymphogranuloma (LGV) cases, with a total of 912 cases reported in 2022, a substantial increase from the 654 cases reported in 2021. Overwhelmingly, 98.5% of LGV cases were in men, with a median age at diagnosis of 36, primarily concentrated in the 25-44 age range.