The first ECDC STI surveillance report shows data on five common STIs across 30 countries in Europe, with that being Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, congenital syphilis, and lymphogranuloma venererum (LGV). The report had demonstrated that the incidence of Chlamydia has been increasing in all but four countries, whereas syphilis and gonorrhea have become less common. Overall, the incidence of all four STIs has increased.
Chlamydia has been reported to be the most common STI in Europe, and like most STIs, Chlamydia has been most commonly transmitted through having unprotected sexual intercourse – oral, vaginal, and/or anal. For example, back in 2009, the rate of Chlamydia has been approximately 185 per 100 000 population. Between 2000 and 2009, the rates of Chlamydia have more than doubled, affecting more women as compared to men.
How common are STIs across Europe and Scandinavia in particular?
The authorities in France have warned the population against the dangers of STIs and advised them to get tested and properly protect themselves against the common STIs after the latest reports have been published. According to their reports, Chlamydia and gonorrhea have been the two most common STIs, with their rates almost tripling between the years of 2012 and 2016. In 2016, approximately 267,097 new cases of chlamydia infection had been registered.
Back in 2018, 7-Eleven used advertisements that showed Norway in the worst possible light ever. Their ads warned against Norway being “The land of Chlamydia” and promoted their business where people could buy condoms to practice safe sex. But their ads just made the government angry, causing them to publish the latest data on STIs in Norway.
What the reports show
The reports show that as of 2017, the incidence of STIs in Norway has remained stable. A total of 25,130 cases of Chlamydia was diagnosed in 2017, with 29 of them being cases of a specific variant of the chlamydia bacteria, also known as lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). LGV has mainly affected men who engaged in sexual intercourse with other men.
The report went on to explain how the highest incidence has been measured within young adults aged 20-24. The highest incidence has been measured in Norway’s capital city – Oslo, affecting more men than women overall.
Increasing numbers of STI tests
The officials over in Norway have also worked hard on increasing the number of tests done for STIs. In 2017, nearly 368,953 tests were done in the whole country. That has led to an increase of 21 percent in the number of tests in the last four years, which speaks a lot about the efforts that this country is putting in preventing the common STIs, not only Chlamydia. So yeah, if you are an expat in Norway you might consider a chlamydia test after a hefty night out – it can help others too.
Finland, on the other hand, has reported an increase in new gonorrhea cases in 2017. Nearly 600 gonorrhea cases have been reported in 2017, with that number having increased for 180 new cases since 2016. Chlamydia has affected as much as 14 461 individuals in Finland.
Sweden has been working hard on promoting the importance of reproductive health, warning of young adults against the many dangers of the common STIs. So much so, that it has even been named Europe’s ‘sex disease capital. There have been openings of new youth-friendly clinics that the young adults are encouraged to visit and get informed on how to protect their reproductive health against the harmful STIs.
Scandinavia is increasingly popular amongst expats
Europe, and Scandinavia in particular, have become locations to which more and more expats are traveling to. Coming from low- and middle-income countries, they often lack the proper knowledge on how to get protected against the many STIs, and so, with their specific lifestyle, they are more likely to help the common STIs to spread even further, thus increasing the numbers of new STIs cases. The large number of expats traveling to Europe and Scandinavia are thought to play a big part in the occurrence of the common STIs.
A study published in 2016 talked about the many risk factors that have been noticed to contribute to this continuous increase in new STI cases. Their list goes on to include risk factors such as:
- Engaging in alcohol and/or drug abuse;
- Being single;
- Longer duration of stay;
- Being male;
- Not practicing safe sex;
- Having multiple sex partners;
- Traveling for romance, etc.
On the other hand, methods such as vaccination, pre-travel health advice in terms of reproductive health, being in a monogamous relationship, and as usual, using proper protection such as condoms, seem to do a lot for protecting the expats but also the general population in the country where the expats are traveling to from the many STIs.
The US and Africa are not the only countries that report a continuous increase in new STI cases. STIs are quite common across Europe as well, especially Scandinavia, where many expats choose to travel to. Although some Scandinavian countries have noticed a decrease in the STI rates as compared to others, this is still a problem that requires special attention much work to be done to prevent the further spread of the common STIs, especially Chlamydia which is the most common STI in Europe, according to past reports.