Emerging Science

New Technologies Could Revolutionize the STI Response

Despite decades of global effort to control sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by promoting healthier sexual behaviors, such as increased condom use, treating people with STI symptoms, and improving access to testing and treatment, global STI rates remain stubbornly high. An estimated 1 million new cases occur every single day.

While some STIs are curable, they often go undiagnosed and untreated, either because they cause few or no symptoms or because diagnostics remain difficult to access. Other STIs have no cure.

The development of new technologies such as vaccines and diagnostics could invigorate efforts to address the global problem of STIs helping to better detect, treat and ultimately prevent infections. Yet STIs remain underrecognized and undersupported. Advocacy is needed to push these efforts forward.

The Need

Why We Need STI Vaccines and Diagnostics

Most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) go untreated, often because they cause no immediate symptoms.

Even when a person does experience acute symptoms, such as discharges or sores, diagnostic tests are often unavailable or unaffordable. With or without symptoms, STIs can be transmitted to others, and may cause severe health consequences. STI vaccines and diagnostics have the potential to prevention these infections.

Many STIs, including genital herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis, can increase the risk of HIV acquisition

HPV infection can lead to several forms of cancer

Bacteria that cause syphilis can be easily passed to the baby during pregnancy and childbirth—resulting in stillbirth, prematurity, infant death, low-birth weight, congenital deformities, and other issues

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are major causes of pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women

Gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it