By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
There were 37 502 Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) recorded in Gauteng hospitals and clinics in the last two years, two-thirds of which were amongst women.
This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
The figures are as follows:
- 2013/14 – Males had 6505 STIs and females had 12 911 STIs, for a total of 19 416 STIs; and
- 2014/15 – Males had 6049 STIs and females had 12 037 STIs, for a total of 18 086 STIs.
The STIs monitored by the department include genital blisters, ulcers and warts, and male urethral syndrome. These symptoms can be associated with STIs like syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
The 25 to 29 years age group is most affected by STIs for both males and females.
According to the department, the biological anatomy of females makes them more vulnerable to STIs, and they show symptoms earlier than males.
Generally, males tend to visit health facilities when the symptoms and signs of STIs are more advanced and complicated.
The high number of STIs is of concern, in particular because it increases the risk of HIV infection.
For instance, if both partners have syphilis or gonorrhoea, the chance of an HIV-positive person passing on the virus can exceed 50% with every single sexual contact.
More effort should be made to educate people about STIs as they are easily curable, and early treatment will lower the risk of HIV infection.