officials call for innovative research on sexually transmitted infections
transmitted infections, or STIs, pose a significant public health challenge.
Globally, more than 1 million new STI cases are diagnosed each day. In a new
research on sexually transmitted infections” in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, experts
from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID),
part of the National Institutes of Health (USA), suggest that the biomedical
research community must refocus its commitment to STI research to surmount this
growing global health crisis.
perspective piece was written by NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Robert
W. Eisinger, Ph.D., special assistant for scientific projects in NIAID’s
Immediate Office of the Director, and Emily Erbelding, M.D., director of
NIAID’s Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
note that a variety of STIs are contributing to the public health crisis as
cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia are all on the rise. Left
untreated, many STIs can cause serious complications. Congenital syphilis can
cause stillbirths and health complications in newborns, and gonorrhea and
chlamydia can contribute to life-threatening ectopic pregnancies (when a
fertilized egg grows outside the uterus). Gonorrhea and syphilis, which
are increasing among men who have sex with men and bisexual men, also are
associated with an increased risk for HIV transmission and acquisition.
increasing antimicrobial resistance will make STIs only more difficult to
treat, as many existing drugs will become less effective against the microbes
that cause gonorrhea and other STIs.
the authors note, STI research efforts have not adequately addressed the
ongoing spread of these diseases. To address this public health threat,
biomedical research programs need to be refocused on developing innovative
diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines for STIs. Healthcare providers need
access to faster, low-cost diagnostics to identify both active and asymptomatic
STIs. The STI vaccine pipeline also needs to produce effective new candidate
vaccines for syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. As for STI therapeutics, the
authors note that research efforts must focus on drug-drug interactions,
toxicities and side effects, while keeping ahead of spreading antimicrobial
NIAID has launched an initiative involving six new STI Cooperative Research Centers that will work to develop vaccines for syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. NIAID also has funded a large clinical trial examining doxycycline post-exposure prophylaxis against STIs in groups at high-risk for HIV and has supported additional novel research efforts. No single entity, however, can tackle the growing public health problem posed by STIs. As the authors note, cooperation among biomedical researchers in the public and private sectors, together with the efforts of community clinics and healthcare providers, will be key to curbing STIs in the years to come.
Topic: hiv, trichomoniasis, gonococcal infection, syphilis, bisexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, vaccines, chlamydia, diagnosis, public health medicine, epidemics, biomedical research, men who have sex with men.
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