Globally, cases of sexually transmitted infections are still unacceptably high. More than a million STIs are caught or passed on every day. It is widely accepted that STIs heighten the risk of HIV transmission and some can cause cases of cancer that are common around the world, such as cervical cancer. The number of HIV diagnoses worldwide was not reduced between the years 2010 and 2015 in young people and adults – threatening the 2030 goal of ending the HIV epidemic.

Urgent action needs to be taken to target key populations most at risk of sexually transmitted infections. These include:

  • Young people and adolescents
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Sex workers

There are many things we can do to control the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The World Health Organization’s global STI strategy includes important actions countries must take to develop stronger and more effective ways to tackle STIs as a public health issue. These include:

  • Strengthening data monitoring
  • STI prevention
  • Early diagnosis
  • Patient and partner management
  • Introducing ways to reach the most vulnerable populations

In WHO’s Global STI Strategy, three particular STIs have been pinpointed for targeted attention:

  • Gonorrhoea (due to increasing antibiotic resistance)
  • HPV (due to its link to cases of cervical cancer)
  • Syphilis (due to the impact on pregnant women)

Sexually transmitted infections are major causes of acute illness, infertility, long-term disability and death, as well as severe health and psychological problems for many men, women and children throughout the world. In the Middle East, male infertility is rampant. However, the mere mention of sexually transmitted infections in this region ignite heated debate and controversy. Misinformation and a lack of data seems to feed this discussion.

Q&A: Talking STIs with Mike Asher, Better2Know’s CEO and Chairman

Should I be scared about getting tested for STIs in the Middle East?

“No! Your health and wellbeing and that of your partners is the most important thing. Remember that STIs often do not cause any symptoms so the only way to know your status is to get tested.”

What do most people get tested for in the Middle East?

“Most of our patients test for a range of STIs including HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and Hepatitis. These are the most common STIs and it’s well worth getting checked for them all at the same time.”

What are the first signs of an STI?

“Often, there are no signs or symptoms at all. That is why getting tested is so important! If you do have symptoms, they can include unusual discharge form the penis or vagina, rashes, itchiness, blisters or just feeling like you are coming down with a cold. It is important to remember that most people do not get any symptoms, so a test is the only sure way to know.”

What will happen if I do not get tested?

“If an STI remains undiagnosed for a long period of time it can cause severe health complications. You can pass the infection on to others, the disease can affect your body, your organs, your ability to have children and some infections can even threaten your life. A test is quick, easy and with a result in hand, we can help you do whatever is necessary to improve your life.”

How can Better2Know help?

Our Middle East clinics offer testing for a wide range of sexually transmitted infections, each of which can be tested for individually or combined with others as part of a comprehensive health screen. All Better2Know’s tests, screens and services in the Middle East are performed in line with national regulations.

To book your test or screen online, select the Book Now button at the top of the page and follow the instructions. Alternatively, you can telephone our welcoming Patient Services team at any time, day, or night, on the telephone number displayed above.

Sources

[1] National Center for Biotechnology Information: In the Arab Bedroom: The Sex Life of Arabs

[2] National Center for Biotechnology Information: HIV and other sexually transmitted infection research in the Middle East and North Africa: promising progress?

[3] World Health Organization: Sexually transmitted infections: implementing the Global STI Strategy (2017)

[4] World Health Organization: Global prevalence and incidence of selected curable sexually transmitted infections

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