STI diagnoses have increased in Europe despite social and physical distancing measures


New research suggests that, despite COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including gonorrhea, secondary syphilis and mycoplasma genitalium have increased.

The research was presented at the 29th European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress, EADV Virtual, and the study was conducted in two main STI centers in Milan, Italy.

Researchers compared the number of confirmed diagnoses of common STIs in patients with symptoms from March 15, 2020 to April 14, 2020. They compared the data with that of the previous period in 2019.1

According to the findings, the number of acute bacterial infections, most associated with men who have sex with men, increased during the observational period, including secondary syphilis and gonorrhea. Cases fell in genital warts and Molluscum Contagiosum.1

The study concludes that despite social and physical distancing restrictions due to COVID-19, acute STIs increased.1

"It was assumed that the lockdown would reduce the opportunity for sexual encounters and STIs. However, I was surprised by the number of new acute infections diagnosed in this short period of time. Gonorrhea and syphilis are typically more prevalent in people in their 30s, so infection may have increased because the concentration of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in the elderly made the younger, more active, cohort feel protected and so less risk averse,” said Marco Cusini, MD, of La Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore di Milano Policlinico, in a press release.1



  1. New research reveals risky sexual behavior and STIs are rising despite COVID-19 pandemic. October 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
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