Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted

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Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted
INFECTIONS: 2006–2015
Breaking the chain
of trans mission
WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections : 2006 - 2015 : breaking the chain of transmission
1.Sexually transmitted diseases - prevention and control. 2.Sexually transmitted diseases - transmission. 3.HIV infections - prevention
and control. 4.HIV infections - transmission.5.Sexual behavior. 6.Delivery of health care - utilization. 7.Consumer advocacy - education.
I.World Health Organization. II:Title:Breaking the chain of transmission.
ISBN 978 92 4 156347 5
(NLM classification: WC 142)
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At a glance
1. Sexually transmitted infections: a public health problem
1.1 The global burden
1.2 Why invest in prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections now?
1.3 Opportunities for an accelerated response
2. Aims and scope of the strategy
2.1 Purpose and objectives
2.2 Target audience
2.3 Guiding principles
2.4 Essential elements of the response
3. The technical strategy: building on success in preventing and controlling
sexually transmitted infections
3.1 Transmission dynamics
3.2 Prevention and control interventions
3.3 Improving information for policy and programme development
3.4 Interface with other programmes and partners
3.5 Strengthening the capacity of health systems for effective service delivery
3.6 Priority components for immediate action
4. The advocacy strategy: mobilizing political and social leadership
and financial resources
4.1 Advocacy
4.2 Working with the media
4.3 Building effective partnerships
4.4 Mobilizing financial resources
Annex 1. Resolution WHA59.19: Prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: draft global strategy
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
genital ulcer disease
human immunodeficiency virus
men who have sex with men
pelvic inflammatory disease
ribonucleic acid
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
World Health Organization
The Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexu-
Communicable Disease (CDS) Cluster
ally transmitted infections 2006–2015 was developed using
s UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for
an inclusive and broad consultative process within the
Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR)
WHO Secretariat and with WHO Member States and other
– STD Diagnostics Initiative (SDI)
external partners. The process was led by the Controlling
– Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme
Sexually Transmitted and Reproductive Tract Infections
team within the Department of Reproductive Health and
Research (RHR), which is part of the Family and Community Health (FCH) Cluster at WHO Headquarters in Geneva.
Developed between September 2002 and March 2006, the
Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals (HTP) Cluster
– Policy, Access and Rational Use (PAR)
– WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research (IVR)
global strategy incorporates elements from strategies for
the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) developed by WHO regional offices, as well as
from consultations held with experts from all WHO regions.
It also includes recommendations from members of the
WHO Gender Advisory Panel and the Expert Advisory Panel
on Sexually Transmitted Infections including those due
to Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The strategy complements the global health-sector strategy for HIV/AIDS and
The Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR)
would like to thank all those who helped to elaborate this
strategy and who provided information and data or critically
reviewed the early drafts. Particular thanks go to colleagues
in the WHO regional offices who made it possible for regional
consultations to take place with an impressive array of representatives from countries, and ensured participation of
national, regional and international partner agencies.
WHO’s Reproductive health strategy to accelerate progress
towards the attainment of international development goals
Special thanks are also due to Professor David Mabey of the
and targets.
Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the London
School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for compiling the
At WHO Headquarters the following teams in various clusters were consulted for input.
Family and Community Health (FCH) Cluster
s Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) Department
– Controlling Sexually Transmitted and Reproductive
Tract Infections (STI)
– Technical Cooperation with Countries for Sexual and
Reproductive Health (TCC)
s HIV/AIDS (HIV) Department
– Prevention
– Monitoring, Research and Evaluation (STI
– Technical Support to Countries
s Child and Adolescent Health and Development (CAH)
– Technical Support to Countries
– Adolescent Health and Development
first draft of this document and for detailing the key elements
of what a new global STI strategy should contain. RHR would
also like to thank Dr Doris Mugrditchian for taking forward
those elements, conducting the initial in-house and external consultations, and compiling the draft that was used for
regional consultations. Mrs Taina Nakari’s help in compiling
the inputs that ensued from the consultations is gratefully
acknowledged. Finally, RHR is grateful to Dr John Richens of
the Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, Royal Free
and University College Medical School, London, United Kingdom, for serving as the technical editor of the final draft.
Nearly a million people acquire a sexually transmitted infec-
STIs occur with the highest frequency among marginal-
tion (STI), including the human immunodeficiency virus
ized populations who have particular problems in access-
(HIV), every day. The results of infection include acute symp-
ing health-care services. Securing the level of support to
toms, chronic infection, and serious delayed consequences
provide effective interventions to these groups is especially
such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, cervical cancer, and
challenging, though the public health benefits are substan-
the untimely deaths of infants and adults. The presence in
a person of other STIs such as syphilis, chancroid ulcers or
genital herpes simplex virus infection greatly increases the
A section on advocacy offers advice to programme man-
risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV. New research suggests
agers on approaches to mobilizing the high-level political
an especially potent interaction between very early HIV
commitment that forms the essential foundation for an
infection and other STIs. This interaction could account for
accelerated response.
40% or more of HIV transmissions. Despite this evidence,
efforts to control the spread of STIs have lost momentum
in the past five years as the focus has shifted to HIV therapies.
Globally, the predominant mode of transmission of HIV is
sexual, which makes it a sexually transmitted infection,
even though there are other modes through which the virus
can be transmitted. Over the years, numerous epidemio-
Prevention and control of STIs should be an integral part
logical and biological studies have provided evidence that
of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services
other STIs, if present in a person, acted as cofactors for HIV
in order to contribute towards the attainment of the Mil-
acquisition or transmission, which led to the common state-
lennium Development Goals and respond to the call for
ment “STIs facilitate the transmission of HIV”. This can give
improved sexual and reproductive health as defined in the
the impression that HIV is itself not an STI.
programme of action of the United Nations International
Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994).
In this document, whenever this common phrase is used,
namely, “STIs facilitate HIV transmission”, it should be
The Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexu-
understood that these are STIs other than HIV. Where more
ally transmitted infections 2006-2015 has two components:
clarity is needed, the phrases “other STIs” or “STIs other
technical and advocacy. The technical content of the strategy
than HIV” are used. In general, strategies and interventions
deals with methods to promote healthy sexual behaviour,
which prevent the sexual transmission of HIV work equally
protective barrier methods, effective and accessible care for
as well for the other STIs.
STIs, and the upgrading of monitoring and evaluation of STI
control programmes. The steps needed to develop health
systems capacity to deliver the programme are explained.
Emphasis is placed on a public health approach based on
sound scientific evidence and cost—effectiveness.
The strategy makes a strong case for expanding the provision of good quality STI care more widely into primary health
care, sexual and reproductive health services and services
that provide HIV management. It emphasizes opportunities
to increase coverage by working collaboratively with other
government sectors, and with community-based organizations and private providers.
More than 340 million new cases of sexually transmitted
bacterial and protozoal infections occur throughout the
world every year.
In pregnancy, untreated early syphilis will result in a stillbirth rate of
25% and be responsible for 14% of neonatal deaths – an overall
perinatal mortality of about 40%. Syphilis prevalence in pregnant
women in Africa, for example, ranges from 4% to 15%.
Untreated gonococcal and chlamydial infections in women will
result in pelvic inflammatory disease in up to 40% of cases. One in
four of these will result in infertility.
New vaccines against human papilloma virus infection could stop the
untimely death of approximately 240 000 women from cervical cancer
every year in resource-poor settings.
Worldwide, up to 4000 newborn babies become blind every
year because of eye infections attributable to untreated maternal
gonococcal and chlamydial infections.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
1.1 The global burden
14–49-year-olds is 19% (4), and throughout the world,
More than 30 bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens are
seropositivity rates are uniformly higher in women than
transmissible sexually (1). While sexually transmitted infec-
in men and increase with age (5). Herpes simplex virus
tions are mostly transmitted through sexual intercourse,
type 2 infection plays an important role in the transmis-
transmission can occur also from mother to child during
sion of HIV. A study in Mwanza (United Republic of Tan-
pregnancy and childbirth, and through blood products or
zania), showed that 74% of HIV infections in men and
tissue transfer, as well as occasionally through other non-
22% in women could be attributable to the presence of
sexual means. Including human immunodeficiency virus
herpes simplex virus type 2 (6).
(HIV) infection that leads to acquired immunodeficiency
s Human papillomavirus, another important sexually
syndrome (AIDS), they have been recognized as a major
transmitted viral pathogen, causes about 500 000
public health problem for many years. Some of the com-
cases of cervical cancer annually with 240 000 deaths,
monest sexually transmitted pathogens and the diseases
mainly in resource-poor countries (7, 8, 9).
they cause are shown in Table 1.
s Hepatitis B virus, which may be transmitted sexually
It is estimated that more than 340 million new cases of
and through needle sharing, blood transfusion and
curable sexually transmitted infections, namely those due
from mother to child, results in an estimated 350 mil-
to Treponema pallidum (syphilis), Neisseria gonorrhoeae,
lion cases of chronic hepatitis and at least one million
Chlamydia trachomatis and Trichomonas vaginalis, occur
deaths each year from liver cirrhosis and liver cancer
every year throughout the world in men and women aged
(10). A vaccine to prevent hepatitis B virus infection,
15–49 years, with the largest proportion in the region of
and thereby reduce the incidence of liver cancer, exists
south and south-east Asia, followed by sub Saharan Africa,
(11, 12).
and Latin American and the Caribbean (2). Millions of viral
sexually transmitted infections also occur annually, attribut-
Given social, demographic and migratory trends, the popu-
able mainly to HIV, human herpesviruses, human papilloma-
lation at risk for sexually transmitted infections will continue
viruses and hepatitis B virus. Globally, all these infections
to grow dramatically. The burden is greatest in the develop-
constitute a huge health and economic burden, especially
ing world, but industrialized nations can also be expected to
for developing countries where they account for 17% of
experience an increased burden of disease because of the
economic losses caused by ill-health (3).
prevalence of non-curable viral infections, trends in sexual
behaviour and increased travel. The socioeconomic costs
s Herpes simplex virus type 2 infection is the leading
of these infections and their complications are substantial,
cause of genital ulcer disease in developing coun-
ranking among the top 10 reasons for health-care visits
tries. Data from sub-Saharan Africa show that 30% to
in most developing countries, and substantially drain both
80% of women and 10% to 50% of men are infected.
national health budgets and household income. Care for the
Among women in central and south America, preva-
sequelae accounts for a large proportion of tertiary health-
lence ranges from 20% to 40%. In the developing
care costs in terms of screening and treatment of cervi-
Asian countries, its prevalence in the general popula-
cal cancer, management of liver disease, investigation for
tion ranges from 10% to 30%. In the United States of
infertility, care for perinatal morbidity, childhood blindness,
America, the prevalence of the viral infection among
pulmonary disease in children and chronic pelvic pain in
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
women. The social costs include conflict between sexual
partners and domestic violence. The costs increase further
when the cofactor effect of other sexually transmitted infections on HIV transmission is taken into consideration.1
Globally, the predominant mode of transmission of HIV is sexual, which makes it a sexually transmitted infection, even though there are other modes through which the virus can be transmitted. Over
the years, numerous epidemiological and biological studies have provided evidence that other sexually transmitted infections, if present in a person, act as cofactors for HIV acquisition or transmission,
which has led to the common statement “sexually transmitted infections facilitate the transmission of
HIV”. This can give the impression that HIV is itself not a sexually transmitted infection. In this document, whenever the phrase “sexually transmitted infections facilitate HIV transmission” is used, it
should be understood that these are sexually transmitted infections other than HIV. Where more clarity is needed, the phrases “other sexually transmitted infections” or “sexually transmitted infections
other than HIV” are used. In general, strategies and interventions that prevent the transmission of HIV
work equally as well for the other sexually transmitted infections.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
1.2 Why invest in prevention and
control of sexually transmitted
infections now?
1.2.2 To prevent HIV infection
Preventing and treating other sexually transmitted infections reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV, especially among populations who are most likely to have a
1.2.1 To reduce related morbidity and mortality
Infections with sexually transmitted pathogens other than
HIV impose an enormous burden of morbidity and mortality
in both resource-constrained and developed countries, both
directly, through their impact on quality of life, reproductive
health and child health, and indirectly, through their role in
facilitating the sexual transmission of HIV and their impact
on national and individual economies.
high number of sex partners, such as sex workers and
their clients. The presence of an untreated inflammatory
or ulcerative sexually transmitted disease increases the
risk of transmission of HIV during unprotected sex between
an infected and an uninfected partner. The cofactor effect
of other such infections on HIV transmission seems to be
higher with the ulcerative diseases: recent evidence indicates that genital herpes may be responsible for fuelling
a large proportion of new HIV infections (13,14), and sup-
The spectrum of health consequences ranges from mild
pressive treatment of herpes simplex virus type 2 infection
acute illness to painful disfiguring lesions and psychologi-
reduces genital shedding of HIV in women. Genital ulcers or
cal morbidity. For example, infection with N. gonorrhoeae
a history of such diseases have been estimated to increase
causes painful micturition in men, and acute or chronic
the risk of transmission of HIV 50–300-fold per episode of
lower abdominal pain in women. Without treatment, infec-
unprotected sexual intercourse (15).
tion with T. pallidum, although painless in the early stages,
can result in neurological, cardiovascular and bone diseases
later in life, and fetal loss in pregnant woman with acute
infection. Chancroid causes disabling painful ulcers which
can result in extensive tissue destruction if treatment is
delayed beyond a few days, particularly in immunocompromised persons. Genital herpes infection causes substantial
psychosexual suffering because of its recurrent and painful
nature, especially in young people.
Services providing care for sexually transmitted infections
are one of the key entry points for HIV prevention. Patients
seeking such care are a key target population for prevention counselling and voluntary and confidential testing for
HIV, and may be in need of care for HIV and AIDS. Patients
attending health clinics for care for sexually transmitted
infections may have primary HIV infection at the same
time, and they usually have high HIV viral load. HIV shedding in semen increased six-fold in men with gonococcal
In addition, there is a large economic burden and loss of
urethritis in Malawi. Following treatment for the urethri-
productivity to individuals and nations as a whole. The
tis, the seminal viral load was reduced to levels similar to
associated costs include direct costs, both medical and
those of HIV-infected men without urethritis (16). A recent
nonmedical, for care and materials, and indirect costs of
study in the United States of America of 52 HIV-infected
time spent sick, when an individual is unable to engage in
men with primary or secondary syphilis, 58% of whom
productive activities (travelling to obtain cure, waiting in the
were receiving antiretroviral therapy, showed that syphilis
health facility for care, and undergoing a procedure such as
is associated with significant increases in plasma viral load
specimen collection). The magnitude of the global burden
and significant decreases in the CD4+ cell count. Syphilis
of infections with sexually transmitted pathogens other than
treatment restored immunity to pre-infection levels, find-
HIV is such that they should be controlled in their own right
ings that underscore the importance of preventing and
as a public health problem.
promptly treating syphilis in HIV-infected individuals both
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Table 1.
Main sexually transmitted pathogens and the diseases they cause
Clinical manifestations and other associated diseases
Bacterial infections
Neisseria gonorrhoeae
Men: urethral discharge (urethritis), epididymitis, orchitis, infertility
Women: cervicitis, endometritis, salpingitis, pelvic inflammatory
disease, infertility, preterm rupture of membranes, perihepatitis
Both sexes: proctitis, pharyngitis, disseminated gonococcal infection
Neonates: conjunctivitis, corneal scarring and blindness
Chlamydia trachomatis
Men: urethral discharge (urethritis), epididymitis, orchitis, infertility
Women: cervicitis, endometritis, salpingitis, pelvic inflammatory
disease, infertility, preterm rupture of membranes, perihepatitis;
commonly asymptomatic
Both sexes: proctitis, pharyngitis, Reiter’s syndrome
Neonates: conjunctivitis, pneumonia
Chlamydia trachomatis
(strains L1-L3)
Both sexes: ulcer, inguinal swelling (bubo), proctitis
Treponema pallidum
Both sexes: primary ulcer (chancre) with local adenopathy, skin
rashes, condylomata lata; bone, cardiovascular and neurological damage
Women: pregnancy wastage (abortion, stillbirth), premature delivery
Neonates: stillbirth, congenital syphilis
Haemophilus ducreyi
Both sexes: painful genital ulcers; may be accompanied by bubo
(Calymmatobacterium) granulomatis
Both sexes: nodular swellings and ulcerative lesions of the inguinal
and anogenital areas
Mycoplasma genitalium
Men: urethral discharge (nongonococcal urethritis)
Women: bacterial vaginosis, probably pelvic inflammatory disease
Ureaplasma urealyticum
Men: urethral discharge (nongonococcal urethritis)
Women: bacterial vaginosis, probably pelvic inflammatory disease
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Clinical manifestations and other associated diseases
Viral infections
Human immunodeficiency virus
Both sexes: HIV-related disease, AIDS
Herpes simplex virus type 2
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (less commonly)
Both sexes: anogenital vesicular lesions and ulcerations
Neonates: neonatal herpes (often fatal)
Human papillomavirus
Men: penile and anal warts; carcinoma of the penis
Women: vulval, anal and cervical warts, cervical carcinoma, vulval
carcinoma, anal carcinoma
Neonates: laryngeal papilloma
Hepatitis B virus
Both sexes: acute hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer
Both sexes: subclinical or nonspecific fever, diffuse lymph node
swelling, liver disease, etc.
Molluscum contagiosum virus
Both sexes: genital or generalized umbilicated, firm skin nodules
Kaposi sarcoma associated herpes
virus (human herpes virus type 8)
Both sexes: aggressive type of cancer in immunosuppressed persons
Protozoal infections
Trichomonas vaginalis
Men: urethral discharge (nongonococcal urethritis); often
Women: vaginosis with profuse, frothy vaginal discharge; preterm
birth, low birth weight babies
Neonates: low birth weight
Fungal infections
Candida albicans
Men: superficial infection of the glans penis
Women: vulvo-vaginitis with thick curd-like vaginal discharge, vulval
itching or burning
Parasitic infestations
Phthirus pubis
Sarcoptes scabiei
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
as a prevention strategy and to improve quality of care for
1.2.4 To prevent adverse pregnancy outcome
persons living with HIV (17). Effective prevention messages,
Untreated sexually transmitted infections are associated with
treatment for other sexually transmitted infections, and pro-
congenital and perinatal infections in neonates, particularly in
motion of condoms in such a population could have a sub-
the areas where rates of infection remain high.
stantial impact on HIV transmission.
In pregnant women with untreated early syphilis, 25% of
The Millennium Development Goal 6, target 7 calls on
pregnancies result in stillbirth and 14% in neonatal death
nations to have halted and begun to reverse the spread
– an overall perinatal mortality of about 40%. Syphilis preva-
of HIV/AIDS by 2015. In the United Republic of Tanzania,
lence in pregnant women in Africa, for example, ranges from
scientifically rigorous methods demonstrated that treat-
4% to 15% (20). Up to 35% of pregnancies among women
ment of sexually transmitted infections could reduce the
with untreated gonococcal infection result in spontaneous
sexual transmission of HIV in a highly cost-effective man-
abortions and premature deliveries, and up to 10% in peri-
ner: improved syndromic management of such infections
natal deaths (21). In the absence of prophylaxis, 30% to 50%
reduced HIV incidence by 38% in a community interven-
of infants born to mothers with untreated gonorrhoea and
tion trial in Mwanza. Results of that trial can probably be
up to 30% of infants born to mothers with untreated chla-
generalized to other populations where the HIV epidemic is
mydial infection will develop ophthalmia neonatorum, which
concentrated, most HIV infections are acquired from casual
can lead to blindness (22,23); worldwide, between 1000 and
partners, and the prevalence of treatable sexually transmit-
4000 newborn babies become blind every year because of
ted infections is high. Their treatment is, therefore, one of
this condition (24).
the interventions that feasibly and cost-effectively contribute towards the attainment of target 7.
Universal institution of an effective intervention to prevent
congenital syphilis should prevent an estimated 492 000
1.2.3 To prevent serious complications in women
stillbirths and perinatal deaths per year in Africa alone (25).
Sexually transmitted infections are the main preventable
In terms of cost-effectiveness, in Mwanza (United Republic
cause of infertility, particularly in women. Between 10% and
of Tanzania), where the prevalence of active syphilis is 8%
40% of women with untreated chlamydial infection develop
in pregnant women, the cost of the intervention is estimated
symptomatic pelvic inflammatory disease (18). Post-infec-
to be US$ 1.44 per woman screened, US$ 20 per woman
tion tubal damage is responsible for 30% to 40% of cases
treated, and US$ 10.56 per disability-adjusted life year saved.
of female infertility. Furthermore, women who have had pel-
The cost per disability-adjusted life year saved from all syph-
vic inflammatory disease are 6 to 10 times more likely to
ilis-screening studies ranges from US$ 4 to US$ 19 (26).
develop an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy than those who have
not, and 40% to 50% of ectopic pregnancies can be attributed to previous pelvic inflammatory disease (19).
1.3 Opportunities for an accelerated
Millennium Development Goal 5, target 6 seeks to reduce
maternal mortality by three quarters by 2015. Prevention
of pelvic inflammatory disease will contribute to this goal
by preventing the death toll related to ectopic pregnancy.
Prevention of human papillomavirus infection will reduce
the number of women who die from cervical cancer, the
second most common cancer in women after breast cancer
1.3.1 A cost-effective intervention for HIV prevention
Improved case management of sexually transmitted infections is one of the interventions scientifically proven to
reduce the incidence of HIV infection in the general population (27,28,29). If the interventions are targeted to a particular
population group with a high likelihood of transmission, the
cost-effectiveness becomes even more pronounced (30).
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
1.3.2 New partnerships
Interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV
There is a renewed global resolve to fight the AIDS epidemic
can be linked with efforts to prevent congenital syphilis in
that includes a commitment to control sexually transmit-
order to avert the tragedy of babies who avoid HIV but die of
ted infections as a primary prevention strategy. The United
syphilis, as was the case in Haiti (31). In addition, this link-
Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS (June
age enhances the cost-effectiveness of the interventions.
2001) states that, while care, support and treatment are
fundamental elements of an effective response, prevention
1.3.3 New technologies for a strengthened response
must be the mainstay of responses to the AIDS pandemic,
Opportunities for innovative methods for the prevention,
including early and effective treatment of those infections.
care and surveillance of sexually transmitted infections will
New partners and sources of funding have emerged on the
result from technological advances in diagnostics, treat-
international development scene. These include powerful
ment, vaccines, and barrier methods.
advocates, influential networks, communities, partners
in non-health sectors, the commercial sector and philanthropic organizations. Funds can be mobilized through
these new sources of funding, as well as through existing
ones, to ensure an intensified response to all sexually transmitted infections. 2
A diverse range of interventions and the successful results
from resource-limited settings as different as Thailand and
Uganda, and from other countries such as Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, indicate that sexually transmitted infections
can be controlled, provided that sufficient political will and
resources are mobilized in order to achieve and maintain
activities at a necessary level. Collaboration between countries, and partnerships with interested agencies, facilitate
the sharing of information and scaling up of successful lessons.
Some mechanisms available include the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria at national level, strategies and initiatives
for expanding access to antiretroviral agents, the United States of
America’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (providing
US$ 15 000 million, including US$ 9000 million in new funding, to
fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic over five years, with a focus on 15 of
the hardest hit countries), and the World Bank multisectoral
HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infection prevention projects.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Rapid diagnostic tests
herpes simplex virus type 2 at an early age offers the
s New point-of-care rapid treponemal tests enable
most compelling hope. The international community,
screening for syphilis at the peripheral health post, and
scientists, funding agencies and governments should
thus provision of treatment without delay.
join forces to plan and rapidly progress towards the
s Nucleic acid amplification tests can be used to monitor
infection trends and guide the adaptation of treatment
protocols. Some tests can be used on easy-to-collect
development of effective vaccines against herpes simplex virus type 2 infection.
s A preventive vaccine against hepatitis B virus has been
specimens, such as urine and self-administered vaginal
available since 1982. Countries should put in place
plans for the prevention of hepatitis B and scale up
s A new generation of cheap, rapid diagnostic tests for
chlamydial infection is under development.
the inclusion of the existing vaccine in immunization
programmes in order to ensure that all children in all
countries are immunized, and that all sexually active
adults at high risk of hepatitis B virus infection have
s Some medicines, for example, ciprofloxacin (where
access to the vaccine.
effective) and acyclovir, are becoming more affordable.
Others, such as azithromycin and cefixime, which have
the added advantage of single-dose administration, will
1.3.4 A public health approach to prevention and
control of sexually transmitted infections
become cheaper as their patents expire and procure-
Effective prevention and care can be achieved by use of a
ment strategies for bulk purchasing are put in place.
combination of responses. Services for prevention and for
Penicillins have remained effective for the treatment
care of people with sexually transmitted infections should
of early syphilis and can be given as single-dose treat-
be expanded and embrace a public health package that
ments, albeit by injection.
includes the following elements.
s Promotion of safer sexual behaviour;
s Preventive vaccines against oncogenic types of human
s Promotion of early health-care-seeking behaviour;
papillomavirus show great promise and will soon be
s Introduction of prevention and care activities across all
available. The international community should work
primary health-care programmes, including sexual and
together with countries to plan and develop strategies
reproductive health and HIV programmes. Successful
for implementing and promoting their use in national
and cost-effective integrated programmes for sexually
immunization programmes in order to guarantee high
transmitted infection, HIV and tuberculosis control have
coverage, especially in adolescents, so that people
been documented in several countries. The care is usu-
can be protected before they become sexually active
ally given by the same providers at the primary health
centre level as those already delivering the primary
s An effective vaccine against herpes simplex virus type
2 infection is not yet available. One vaccine, however,
has shown promise in women with no prior exposure to
health care. Such an approach is both attractive and
cost-saving for client and health system alike;
s A comprehensive approach to case management that
type 1 or 2 of the virus (34). More field trials are needed
to evaluate its utility in a variety of epidemiological
– identification of the sexually transmitted infections
settings. Given the high prevalence of herpes simplex
virus type 2 infection and its importance in enhancing
HIV transmission, a vaccine to prevent the spread of
– appropriate antimicrobial treatment for the
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
– education and counselling on ways to avoid or
reduce risk of infection with sexually transmitted
1.3.5 Condom promotion to populations engaged in
high-risk behaviours and to the general population
pathogens, including HIV;
There has been sufficient evidence to show that condoms,
– promotion of the correct and consistent use of
– partner notification (see section 3.2.3 for more
To the extent possible, interventions and strategies should
be evidence-based. By implementing and carefully evaluating innovative interventions, however, new evidence can be
gathered to inform policies, programmes and scaling up.
It is, therefore, important to apply the following concept:
plan, do, assess and then (if successful) scale up. Innovative
when used correctly and consistently, are effective in protecting against the transmission of HIV to women and men.
They also reduce the risk of men becoming infected with
gonorrhoea from their sexual partners. Correct and consistent condom use is associated not only with reduced
transmission of HIV and with reduced acquisition of urethral
infection among men, but also with the reduced acquisition
of the following (35):
s genital infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 by
men and women;
approaches in such a process include.
s syphilis by men and women;
s Periodic presumptive treatment: this short-term strategy has been shown to control certain sexually trans-
s chlamydial infection by men and women;
mitted infections when targeted at specific population
s gonococcal infection by women;
groups in appropriate settings.
s Social marketing of commodities for infection control:
social marketing of pre-packed medicines or condoms
(along with training in their correct and consistent use)
for treatment and prevention has improved access to
s possibly Trichomonas vaginalis infection by women.
Condom use has also resulted in accelerated regression
of cervical and penile human papillomavirus-associated
lesions and accelerated clearance of genital human papillomavirus infection by women.
care for sexually transmitted infections in some places.
s Provision of user-friendly services for adolescents:
Given this evidence, it is important to assess the magni-
experience has shown how to make services more
tude of HIV and other sexually transmitted infection rates
responsive and acceptable to adolescents – countries
in the general population and in high-risk populations. In
should use this knowledge and experience to scale up
countries where these rates are high in both the general
appropriately-adapted interventions to suit each coun-
population and high-risk populations, safer sex strate-
try or setting, and to reach as many adolescents as are
gies must be delivered as a package to both population
in need.
groups. Such strategies include: promoting the correct use
of male and female condoms, and their distribution, and
s Male involvement and motivation, and services for men:
pilot projects targeting men have been successful; the
experience gained should be adapted to local conditions and activities should be scaled up.
s Second-generation HIV surveillance to cover also
behaviour and sexually transmitted infections: such an
approach will provide programmes with information on
appropriate interventions to control all sexually transmitted infections.
sexual abstinence, delaying sexual debut and reducing the
number of sexual partners. In settings where the infections
are concentrated in high-risk populations, targeted interventions should be a priority, but not to the exclusion of
education and other prevention and care services for the
general population.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
1.3.6 Obstacles to provision of services for control of
sexually transmitted infections
Several other difficulties have been encountered in attempts
Over the past five years, interest and resources for the pre-
the epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections are
vention and control of sexually transmitted infections other
multifaceted (including gender inequities, poverty and other
than HIV have declined despite their importance as cofac-
socioeconomic disparities), and intervention efforts to pre-
tors in the transmission of HIV and as direct agents of sig-
vent infection have failed to take into consideration the full
nificant morbidity and mortality in the world. Advocacy and
range of the underlying determinants. At the care level, it
support have focused on antiretroviral therapy and testing
is crucial to ensure consistent supplies of medicines and
and counselling policies for HIV.
condoms, a challenge that has not been successfully tack-
to promote prevention interventions. The determinants of
led by health systems. Counselling on risk reduction is also
In spite of the Programme of Action of the United Nations
usually lacking. In the control of these infections, a broader
International Conference on Population and Development
participation of partners from different sectors, disciplines
(Cairo, 1994) and the outcome of the Fourth World Confer-
and communities (including from nongovernmental and
ence on Women (Beijing, 1995), advocates for sexual and
faith-based organizations) is necessary, but this broader
reproductive health have not been particularly enthusiastic
involvement remains a challenge, especially in the area of
about integrating prevention and care activities for sexu-
community participation.
ally transmitted infections (including HIV) into their work
(36,37). Integration of those activities into sexual and reproductive health programmes in order to improve coverage
has proved to be more complex than expected. Experience
with integration has been mixed; not enough is known
about how integrated interventions can best be configured
and what effect they have on prevention of infections and
unwanted pregnancy (38).
In addition, syndromic management of women who present
with vaginal discharge has proven problematic as a tool
for the detection and management of cervical infections,
particularly in areas of low prevalence of sexually transmitted infections. As a result, affordable, rapid diagnostic tests
are needed. Such tests have been slow to be developed
and, where available, they are still too expensive for governments to incorporate into national care programmes.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
In addition to these shortcomings, the following underlying
s Donors are increasingly using sector-wide approaches
factors have also contributed to failure to control sexually
to allocate aid to the whole health sector rather than to
transmitted infections:
specific projects, such as sexually transmitted infec-
s ignorance and lack of information perpetuate wrong
conceptions of these diseases and associated stigmatization;
tion control. Although this allows health ministries to
determine national priorities, it also means that countries that have traditionally accorded little importance
to these infections in their health budgets because of
s many of the infections tend to be asymptomatic or oth-
stigmatization can continue to do so.
erwise unrecognized until complications and sequelae
develop, especially in women;
s There is a failure to provide suitable education and
services to populations identified as being particularly
s the stigmatization associated with infection (and clinics
vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, such
that provide services) constitutes an ongoing and pow-
as young people and adolescents, sex workers (both
erful barrier to the implementation of prevention and
male and female) and their clients, men who have sex
care interventions.
with men, transgendered people, substance users,
prisoners, mobile populations (for work or recreation),
At the individual and community levels, stigmatization
results in:
s reluctance of patients to seek early treatment;
s preference to seek treatment in the private sector,
whether provided by medically qualified personnel,
pharmacists, traditional practitioners or other types of
providers, who are perceived to offer greater accessibility, confidentiality, and to be less stigmatizing than
public-sector facilities;
s difficulty in notifying and treating infections in sexual
At the policy and decision-making levels, the following factors operate.
s Policy-makers and planners give low priority to control
of sexually transmitted infections. This situation is
potentially aggravated by the stigmatization and prejudice associated with the infections and ignorance of
the importance of their impact on health and economic
children and young people on the street, and people
affected by conflict and civil unrest.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
2.1 Purpose and objectives
s diagnosis and treatment of asymptomatic infections;
The purpose of the global strategy is to provide a framework
s the syndromic approach for the management of
to guide an accelerated global response for the prevention
and control of sexually transmitted infections, towards the
attainment of international development goals. In particular, the strategy will focus on achievement of the following
abnormal vaginal discharge;
s management of sexually transmitted infections in
sexual partners;
s attitudes of health-care providers;
s to increase the commitment of national governments
s availability and reliability of data for planning purposes.
and national and international development partners for
It will also identify appropriate opportunities for interfacing
prevention and control;
and integrating with HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive
s to promote mobilization of funds and reallocation of
resources, taking into account national prioritized
health programmes, and for involvement of the private sector.
results-oriented interventions that ensure aid effectiveness, ownership, harmonization, results and accountability; 3
Advocacy component: a global advocacy campaign to raise
awareness and mobilize resources worldwide. This campaign
will run alongside other initiatives such as campaigns for
s to ensure that policies, laws and initiatives related to
the elimination of congenital syphilis, the control and eradi-
provision of care are non-stigmatizing and gender-sen-
cation of curable genital ulcer diseases, and the control of
sitive within the prevailing sociocultural context;
genital herpes and genital human papillomavirus infections.
s to harness the strengths and capacities of all partners
and institutions in order to scale up and sustain interventions for prevention and control.
2.2 Target audience
The strategy outlines the essential elements of an effective
The global response will be guided by two strategic com-
response to the burden of infection and provides informa-
tion on key issues. It does not attempt to provide guidelines
on how to develop or implement activities.
Technical component: a global technical strategy adaptable at the country and regional levels, including ways to
Its target audiences are the following: managers of national
package and deliver the key programmatic elements of
programmes on HIV/AIDS/sexually transmitted infec-
prevention and control in a sustainable manner. The strat-
tions and sexual and reproductive health; health-sector
egy will draw on lessons learnt and on clearly successful
stakeholders including public-sector and private-sector
actions that need to be scaled up. It will identify shortcom-
health-care providers; health ministers, policy-makers
ings in such key areas as:
and other decision-makers in the health sector; inter-
s availability or suitability of health-care services for
national agencies and nongovernmental partners; other
priority target populations (e.g. adolescents and sex
Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness: Ownership, Harmonisation,
Alignment, Results and Mutual Accountability. Paris, March 2005.
governmental departments and agencies; and donors.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
2.3 Guiding principles
transmitted pathogens the same, but also prevention
The strategy is underpinned by internationally agreed
and care of other sexually transmitted infections remain
frameworks of ethics and human rights, which recognize
key elements of the primary prevention of HIV, espe-
the right of all persons to the highest attainable standards of
cially in settings and populations with low HIV preva-
health, including sexual and reproductive health. It conforms
lence. Combining the strengths of the two programmes
with the legal framework governing the reproductive health
creates synergies for the fight against both HIV and
needs of children and adolescents, in particular the right to
other sexually transmitted infections. WHO’s global
be free of coercion or abuse, including sexual abuse.
health-sector strategy for HIV/AIDS 2003-2007 and the
WHO/UNAIDS strategies for coming as close as possible
The strategy is also based on the following guiding prin-
to the goal of universal access to prevention, care and
treatment will be instrumental frameworks for this col-
1. Gender inequalities must be addressed through inter-
ventions that influence political will as well as societal
5. Building partnerships is critical for improved preven-
norms and attitudes concerning sexual behaviour and
tion and care of sexually transmitted infections. The
the status of women. Active promotion of male respon-
multisectoral approach should include the ministries
sibility and the empowerment of women in the pre-
of health, education, sports, tourism and transport, and
vention and control of sexually transmitted infections
the military and other uniformed forces, as well as the
are crucial elements of an effective gender-sensitive
private and informal sectors.
2. There should be a seamless continuum between pre-
6. Engagement of communities (including nongovernmental and faith-based organizations) and vulnerable popu-
vention interventions and care. The balance and variety
lations as partners in the design, implementation and
of activities will depend on the local determinants of
evaluation of interventions and services enriches the
epidemiology, patterns of infections and resources
process, ensures ownership and culture-sensitiveness
available. In each setting, the availability of and access
of the process and output, and mobilizes commitment
to condoms and medicines for treatment of sexually
for implementation.
transmitted infections will constitute elements of a fully
effective response.
3. Interventions should form an integral part of a range
7. Reducing stigmatization and discrimination at both
individual and societal levels is a key component to
improve health-care seeking behaviour and provision
of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health ser-
of health-care services in relation to prevention and
vices. Close cooperation with sexual and reproductive
health programmes, within the framework of WHO’s
strategy to accelerate progress towards the attainment
of international development goals and targets related
to reproductive health, is crucial for the implementation
of strategies on both sexually transmitted infections
and reproductive health.
4. Cooperation between prevention and care programmes
for sexually transmitted infections and those for HIV is
vital for the response, as not only are the risk behaviours that lead to infection with HIV and other sexually
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
2.4 Essential elements of the response
Innovative ways of packaging and delivering these core
The key strategic elements of a control programme for
elements must be explored. The challenge is to determine
sexually transmitted infections at the national and regional
how best:
levels are well-established and include the following:
s to use existing and new tools and technologies so as to
s reviewing relevant policies, laws and regulations to
ensure that they are non-punitive and non-coercive and
benefit the people who need them most;
s to improve clinic environments to make them more
contribute towards the aims of the prevention and con-
accessible, user-friendly and client-centred so that they
trol programmes and services;
respond to clients’ needs;
s promoting healthy behaviours: safer sexual and healthseeking behaviours, compliance with therapy, and
responsible notification and management of infections
in sexual partners;
s delivering care including antenatal case-finding programmes for syphilis and other sexually transmitted
infections, ophthalmic prophylaxis at birth for neonates,
and immunization against hepatitis B;
s ensuring a reliable supply of safe, effective, high-quality
and affordable medicines and commodities for prevention and control, including male and female condoms
and other effective barrier methods;
s strengthening support components, including the adaptation of normative guidelines, training, information
networks, commodities logistics, laboratory support,
surveillance and research.
s to communicate clear health messages in local languages so that they are more memorable and effective;
s to develop strong relations with the media and recruit
advocates for prevention and control across social networks that are difficult to penetrate;
s to promote a multisectoral response that works in sectors other than health, such as the legal and education
sectors, the tourism industry and the private sector;
s to develop public-private partnerships for prevention
and control;
s to rally international agencies, national governments,
private philanthropic organizations and commercial
interests around a set of priority interventions and initiatives;
s to move beyond the search for “magic bullets” to
multifaceted interventions that work in concert across
multiple components and levels, and are sustainable at
the local level.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
3.1 Transmission dynamics
transmitting an infection and bring them into this bridging
In the past 20 years, knowledge about the transmission
category. Sexual networks vary from setting to setting but,
dynamics of sexually transmitted infections has grown,
in general, sexual partners of individuals with high rates
as a consequence of the pandemic of HIV and increased
of infection (i.e. bridging populations), in turn, infect other
efforts to control the other infections. Mathematical mod-
sexual partners, such as their spouses or other regular
elling and research have shown the importance of sexual
sexual partners within the general population. Figure 1 is
networks in determining the spread of all these infections.
a simplified representation of the population transmission
This improved understanding of the transmission dynamics
dynamics for sexually transmitted infections.
has implications for the design of strategic prevention and
control interventions.
The situation is further complicated by the different interaction dynamics between host and pathogen which are gov-
Within a given population the distribution of such infections
erned by a threshold parameter, R0, the basic reproductive
is not static. Over time, epidemics evolve through different
number. R0 represents the expected number of secondary
phases characterized by changing patterns in the distribu-
cases produced by a single index case in a population of
tion and transmission of the sexually transmitted pathogens
susceptible persons. R0 is a product of three variables, rep-
within and between subpopulations (39). Generally, early
resented as R0 = ß × D × C, where ß is the transmission
in an epidemic or in some geographical settings, sexually
efficiency of the pathogen per single sexual contact (infec-
transmitted pathogens are likely to be transmitted within
tiousness), D is the duration of infectiousness and C is the
and from high-risk persons with high rates of infection and
rate of change of sexual partners (40). Some pathogens (e.g.
frequent changes of sexual partner (core groups). As the
Haemophilus ducreyi) are highly infectious but the period
epidemic progresses, the pathogens spread into lower-risk
during which an infected person is infectious is of short
populations (bridging populations) who may be an impor-
duration, while others such as HIV and herpes simplex virus
tant sexual link between the core groups and the general
type 2 are of relatively low infectiousness but infected peo-
population. Social or economic conditions of certain popula-
ple are infectious for a long period. Neisseria gonorrhoeae,
tion groups can increase their vulnerabilities for acquiring or
Chlamydia trachomatis and Treponema pallidum, on the
Figure 1.
Transmission dynamics of sexually transmitted infection at the population level
General population
Core group
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
other hand, are of intermediate infectiousness and duration
well as in the general population, provide valuable informa-
(41,42). Thus, the pattern by which an epidemic will evolve
tion on the transmission dynamics and help to determine
will differ for different types of population-pathogen interac-
which interventions for control would be most successful.
tions. All these factors need to be taken into consideration,
Targeted interventions should be prioritized according to the
where possible, when planning an effective programme for
needs, feasibility and availability of resources.
the prevention and control of these infections.
The populations whose behaviours and vulnerabilities need
Risk factors for sexually transmitted infections, including
to be analysed for possible targeted interventions vary
HIV infection, vary by sex, and women and their infants
between regions and among countries. Those frequently
are disproportionately affected. Differences in vulner-
observed to be in need of targeted interventions include:
ability and sequelae are attributable to biological susceptibility and to gender differentials such as power
inequalities, and behavioural factors including sexual
s sex workers (female, male and transgendered) and
their clients who also might have sex with their regular
practices, health-care seeking behaviour, and in some
settings, poor access to care and low levels of education.
s mobile populations such as long-distance truck drivers,
fishermen, seafarers and migrant workers, who are at
increased risk of infection primarily because of their
3.2 Prevention and control interventions
Given the transmission dynamics summarized above, strategies for prevention and control need to be appropriate in
order to maximize the impact and gains. Programmes need
to have an understanding of the following:
s which populations are at greatest risk;
s what behaviours or circumstances put these
populations at risk;
s what are the best approaches and interventions to
break the chain of transmission;
s how to prioritize, scale up and sustain the interventions.
In some geographical settings and countries rates of sexu-
mobility and high-risk sexual contacts;
s men who have sex with men who have multiple sexual
partners and engage in unprotected anal intercourse;
s men who have sex with men and who also have sex
with women (i.e. bisexual men);
s substance users, especially those who also sell or
exchange sex to support their habit or who have sex
with non-users;
s incarcerated persons, especially juveniles;
s external and internal refugees and displaced persons;
s members of the uniformed services, including military
and police;
ally transmitted infections in the general population are
s tourists, especially recreational sex tourists;
high, while in others high rates are confined to specific
s women or men who experience sexual and gender-
population groups. Exercises that map infection levels,
based violence;
sexual behaviours (e.g. number of sexual partners and rates
of partner change), preventive behaviours (e.g. correct and
consistent condom use), and health-related behaviours
(e.g. treatment-seeking behaviours) in population groups
with high rates of infection and in vulnerable groups, as
s children and young people on the street, and those who
are abused or are orphans.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Adolescents are at special risk of infection with sexually
ponent of prevention efforts and incorporated into care and
transmitted pathogens, including HIV, because they might
support activities. It can increase knowledge; stimulate dia-
not have the information, skills, health care and support
logue within the community; promote essential changes in
they need while going through sexual development. Their
attitude; reduce stigmatization and discrimination; create
sexual relations tend to be unplanned and sporadic, and
demand for information and health-care services; advocate
in many cases result from pressure or force or take place
appropriate policies and laws; promote interventions for
in exchange for acceptance or financial gain. Adolescent
prevention, care and support; and improve skills and self-
women in particular are more vulnerable than men for
esteem (43).
biological, social and economic reasons. In some cultures
where adolescents, especially girls, marry at a young age,
When choosing the communication channels for sexual
national programmes need to recognize that the young girls
behavioural-change messages it is important to know
may be at increased risk because the social and biological
which ones can most effectively reach the target popula-
factors referred to above still apply to them even though
tion. One successful channel for targeted interventions is
they will be regarded as adults by virtue of being married.
through peer educators and opinion leaders. Health talks
The prevention and care of these infections, including HIV
through institutional or interpersonal networks, group dis-
infection, among young people will require a range of age-
cussions or other one-to-one approaches have also proved
appropriate interventions from a variety of different sectors.
effective. Age-appropriate schools-based programmes help
The health sector itself will be responsible for a number of
in reaching young people who are attending school, but for
such interventions, through a range of health-system part-
the out-of-school population other channels, such as peer
ners. Some of these areas of activity for adolescents are
education, are necessary.
discussed in section 3.4.1.
Whatever channel of communication is selected, it is impor-
All targeted interventions, however, must be provided in the
tant to use language that is well understood locally. Care
context of effective services for people with sexually trans-
should be taken that the messages are sensitive to gen-
mitted infections and other health needs for the general
der and culture and that they do not reinforce any existing
populations as well as the populations being targeted.
norms that could be driving the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Prevention activities should be designed for
3.2.1 Promoting healthy sexual behaviour
the particular population for whom they are intended, by
An effective response to the spread of sexually transmit-
taking into consideration people’s situations, vulnerabilities
ted infections starts with prevention by providing accurate
and specific needs.
and explicit information on safer sex, including correct and
consistent use of male and female condoms, as well as
abstinence, delay in onset of sexual activity, keeping to one
sexual partner or reducing the number of sexual partners.
In addition to prevention interventions, health-care services
must be available to provide early and effective treatment.
Innovative strategies for raising demand for high quality services should be used, for example market-oriented
methods for raising consumer awareness on what is the
correct, high-quality treatment that they should expect from
the care providers. This approach relies on the premise that
increasing demand affects supply of health-care services.
Communication about sexual behavioural change is part of
Creating high expectations that are not met can be detri-
an integrated, multilevel, interactive process with communi-
mental to success.
ties, aimed at developing tailored messages and approaches
using a variety of channels. It should be an integral com-
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Health education about sexually transmitted infections, and
counselling of both infected and uninfected people, including voluntary counselling and confidential HIV testing,
should be an integral part of any health service for those
infections, as the counselling process creates motivation
to change sexual behaviour in both infected and uninfected
individuals. Education and counselling messages should
also highlight the need for sexual partners to be informed
and managed properly for any such infection in order to
avoid repeated infections.
3.2.2 Providing condoms and other barrier methods
The male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV
and other sexually transmitted pathogens. Although the
female condom is effective and safe, it has not achieved
its full potential in national programmes because of its
relatively high cost. Male and female condoms are a key
component of comprehensive prevention strategies, and
both should be made readily and consistently available to
all those who need them in order to reduce risks of sexual
exposure to pathogens including HIV.
Tests are currently under way to assess the effectiveness
of diaphragms to protect the cervix against HIV and other
sexually transmitted infections. Together, microbicides and
the diaphragm offer the best promise of prevention tools
that women can control. Currently, several new microbicides are undergoing field trials. Should any of these new
methods of prevention prove effective, strategies will need
to be developed to facilitate their introduction in different
geographical and population settings.
particularly effective in ensuring that high-quality, affordable
condoms are available where and when they are needed,
in both traditional and non-traditional outlets. Condom distribution can also be supplemented by community-based
distribution and outreach services to target populations.
3.2.3 Delivering prevention and care
The aim of delivering care services for people with sexually transmitted infections is to prevent the development
of long-term complications and sequelae in people already
Planning is essential to ensure that national needs are met
infected and to prevent the spread of infection to uninfected
on a consistent basis. Once procured, condoms should
sexual partners, the fetus or the newborn.
be promoted and distributed through both the public and
private sectors, in clinical and non-clinical settings. Mater-
Strategic options for prevention and care
nal and child health and family planning clinics are good
In any particular population there will be individuals infected
additional outlets for condoms, making them accessible to
and those not infected with sexually transmitted pathogens.
women who could be at risk of sexually transmitted infec-
A proportion from each of these groups will seek care either
tions. Social marketing programmes have been shown to be
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
for symptoms perceived to be related to a sexually trans-
to prevent further infections and their many complications
mitted infection, or for ailments other than such infections.
and long-term sequelae. The components of such manage-
At the same time, within the community there will be a
ment (44,45) are the following:
number of symptomatic people with sexually transmitted
infections who do not seek care for one reason or another,
s correct diagnosis by syndrome or laboratory diagnosis;
and others who will be asymptomatic but infected. Strate-
s provision of effective treatment;
gies need to be identified and put in place to cope with this
s reduction in or prevention of further risk-taking
variety of presentations both at the community and health-
behaviour through age-appropriate education and
centre levels.
Figure 2 presents a diagrammatic representation of such
s promotion and provision of condoms, with clear
messages for correct and consistent use;
a scenario. The left side represents people with an established sexually transmitted infection and the right side rep-
s notification and treatment of sexually transmitted infec-
resents those without an infection; the top half represents
symptomatic persons (with or without a sexually transmitted
infection) and the bottom half represents the asymptomatic
group. The upper-left quadrant, therefore, represents persons with true symptomatic infections, while the lower-left
quadrant concerns those without symptoms of infection.
The challenge is how to detect the infection in these people
who are infected but without symptoms. The upper-right
quadrant represents people who are not infected but presenting with symptoms suggestive of infection. This group
does not require treatment for sexually transmitted infections, but needs information and reassurance, along with
treatment for the ailment that could be responsible for the
symptoms. In this group, the challenge is how to exclude
infection. The lower-right quadrant relates to people without
infection and free of any symptoms. This is a healthy population that needs information and knowledge to remain free
of infection. Such information can be provided either within
the community or when these people come into contact
with a health centre. Options and commodities necessary to
provide a comprehensive prevention and care programme
are discussed below, in terms of the transmission dynamics and the different categories of persons presenting at
health-care facilities.
tions in sexual partners, where applicable.
Whenever an infection is diagnosed or suspected, effective treatment should be provided promptly to avoid complications and to break the chain of transmission. The client
should receive education and counselling on: adherence to
treatment; notification and treatment of infections in sexual
partners; risk reduction; and correct and consistent condom
use. Referral for existing complications or sequelae should
be provided, whenever needed.
Syndromic management
Traditionally, a presumed sexually transmitted infection has
been diagnosed by either clinical appearance alone (which
is often inaccurate) or a laboratory-based test, which can be
complicated and expensive and commonly delays treatment
while test results are awaited. Even if desirable, laboratorybased diagnosis is often limited, especially in resource-constrained settings, owing to the cost of maintaining a laboratory and a consistent supply of test kits as well as ensuring
quality control. For these reasons WHO recommends the
syndromic management of sexually transmitted infections
in patients presenting with consistently recognized signs
and symptoms shown in simple flowcharts that can be used
at the primary health-clinic level. 4
Sexually transmitted infections programmes should promote accessible, acceptable and effective interventions that
offer comprehensive case management of infected persons
WHO has developed protocols for seven syndromes: vaginal
discharge, urethral discharge, genital ulcer, lower abdominal pain,
scrotal swelling, inguinal bubo, and neonatal conjunctivitis (44).
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
General population
People with sexually
transmitted infections
People without sexually
transmitted infections
Do not seek
Seek treatment
Treatment necessary
Avoid unnecessary treatment
Standardized case management
Behavioural change communication
to raise awareness of symptoms of
sexually transmitted infections and
improve health-care
seeking behaviour
Prevention messages against sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV
Attend health facility for reason
other than sexually
transmitted infections
Treatment necessary
Do not seek
No treatment needed
Case-finding and screening
Incorporation of rapid diagnostic tests
for sexually transmitted infections
Periodic presumptive treatment
Behavioural change communication
to raise awareness and education
on reproductive health and personal
Awareness campaigns
Prevention messages against sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV
Prevention messages against sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV
Behavioural change communication
to raise awareness and education
on reproductive health and personal
Prevention messages against sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV
Do not seek
Do not seek
Health education and counselling
Clinical presentation
Figure 2.
Diagrammatic representation of clinical presentations of sexually transmitted or reproductive
tract infections and service needs
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Syndromic management is based on the identification of
treating people with asymptomatic infections. Targeting
a group of symptoms and easily recognized signs associ-
screening to those at higher risk of infection will improve
ated with infection with well-defined pathogens. Treatment
the cost-effectiveness of screening programmes.
for each syndrome is directed against the main organisms within that geographical setting responsible for the
Strategies for case-finding and screening for sexually trans-
syndrome. The syndromic approach has been shown to
mitted infections require more than the development of
be highly effective for the management of urethritis and
rapid diagnostic tests but will be more feasible when these
epididymitis in men and genital ulcers in both men and
become available. In all cases, careful attention should be
women, and works well in the management of infants with
paid to patient confidentiality, counselling and treatment
ophthalmia neonatorum. It should be noted that the syn-
drome of vaginal discharge is neither specific nor sensitive for predicting gonococcal, chlamydial or other cervi-
Strategies for notification of sexual partners
cal infections; however, if the primary objective is to treat
Partner notification, which is an integral part of case man-
vaginitis – attributable, for example, to bacterial vaginosis
agement, is a process whereby the sexual partners of
or trichomoniasis – the approach is of benefit and becomes
patients diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections are
cost effective in all settings (46,47).
informed of their exposure to infection so that they may
seek consultative screening and treatment. Partner notifi-
Sexually transmitted infections often exist without symp-
cation aims to prevent reinfection of the index patient and
toms, particularly in women. Different strategies are
reduce the spread of infections. Three main approaches
required for the detection and management of these asymp-
have been followed:
tomatic infections. Some of the strategies are case-finding
or screening, with enhanced interventions for reaching
s use of third parties (usually health-care personnel) to
notify sexual partners;
sexual partners in order to provide case management for
a presumptive sexually transmitted infection, and increas-
s index patients notify their sexual partners, or the
ing knowledge and awareness of individual risk. Case-find-
patients are supplied with medications to deliver to
ing refers to testing in individuals who seek health care for
their sexual partners; (49)
reasons other than a sexually transmitted infection. A very
s index patients agree to notify their sexual partners, with
important application of case-finding is the provision of care
the understanding that health-care personnel will notify
for such infections in antenatal clinics and in maternal and
those partners who do not present for treatment within
child-health and family planning clinics. A common example
a given time.
of case-finding is the routine testing of pregnant women for
syphilis at antenatal clinics.
Epidemiological treatment (treatment for the same infection or syndrome as in the index patient) should be given
Screening refers to testing of individuals who are not
to all recent sexual partners. Management of such partners
directly seeking any health care. For example, testing of
for infections is one of the most difficult interventions to
blood donors for syphilis, HIV infection and markers of
achieve, but it is an important component of control of sexu-
hepatitis B virus infection is an important application of
ally transmitted infections. It offers a significant opportunity
screening. Community-based screening, when feasible and
for identifying and treating asymptomatic persons, particu-
acceptable and done with due regard to confidentiality and
larly women, at an early stage and before the development
human rights, can be an effective means of detecting and
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
of complications. This intervention should not be coercive,
and preferably as a single dose, and that is not contrain-
however, and special care needs to be taken to observe
dicated for pregnant or breast-feeding women. A two-tier
confidentiality and to take gender into account, in view of
medicines policy, with the provision of less effective medi-
the fact that the implications for partners will differ accord-
cines at the peripheral health-care level and the most effec-
ing to their sex and their sexual and social norms.
tive (usually more expensive) ones only at a referral level,
can result in an unacceptable rate of treatment failures,
There is no strong or consistent evidence for the relative
complications and referrals, bring about drug resistance
effects of the three approaches or patient choice among
more rapidly and erode confidence in health services.
strategies. Patient referral incurs fewer costs and can be
more effective with appropriate education and counselling
To ensure a consistent supply of safe and effective medi-
(50). More operational research, especially in developing
cines, countries need to have a sustainable procurement
countries, is needed to evaluate the different approaches
strategy that ensures a 60-day reserve stock at a minimum.
in terms of acceptability, the number of sex partners that
Procurement strategies are discussed in section 3.5.6.
present for medical evaluation, the impact on index patient
reinfection rates, and incidence of sexually transmitted
Diagnostic tests
infections. In addition, whatever approach of partner notifi-
Some 80% to 90% of the global burden of sexually transmit-
cation is implemented, costs and potential harm related to
ted infections occurs in the developing world where there is
the process need to be monitored and documented.
limited or no access to appropriate diagnostics. There is a
need for the development of rapid diagnostic tests in order
3.2.4 Access to medicines and appropriate
to improve the quality of care and diagnosis for patients
need for improved diagnostics for these infections in HIV-
Consistent availability of appropriate medicines is essential
endemic areas, as some of them are important cofactors in
for a successful sexually transmitted infection control pro-
the transmission of HIV.
in resource-limited settings. There is a particularly urgent
gramme. Prompt and effective treatment breaks the chain
of transmission and prevents the development of complica-
tions and long-term sequelae. Most of these medicines are
As immunization of populations at risk is, in general, a
inexpensive, and cost should not be a barrier to their avail-
highly effective method of controlling infectious diseases,
ability. Some of the newer and improved formulations are,
the arguments for searching for effective vaccines against
however, expensive and require procurement mechanisms
sexually transmitted infection, including HIV infection, are
that would make them affordable to governments and cli-
compelling. Such vaccines would be an important addition
ents. Factors related to affordability can include national,
to the existing armamentarium of prevention technologies.
regional and international features such as patents, limited
Currently, hepatitis B vaccine is the only effective vaccine
volume, limited competition, import duties and tariffs, and
available against a sexually transmitted pathogen.
local taxes and mark-ups for wholesaling, distribution and
Preventive vaccination against the oncogenic human papillomavirus types will soon become available, as was shown
A medicine that is appropriate for treatment of a sexually
by a recent trial which demonstrated a vaccine efficacious
transmitted infection is one that is highly efficacious, that
in prevention of incident and persistent cervical infections
has acceptable toxicity, for which microbial resistance is
with types 16 and 18 (33). Discussions have been held,
either unlikely or will be delayed, that is administered orally
under the auspices of WHO, to determine appropriate end-
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
point measures for human papillomavirus vaccines and
immunization strategy. Lessons may be taken from some
encourage recognition of human papillomavirus infection
vaccination programmes against infectious diseases and,
as a public health problem. WHO is encouraging countries
indeed, from the lack of widespread use of an existing vac-
to consider the benefits of introducing these vaccines in
cine against hepatitis B.
their programmes as well as to explore issues of acceptability and feasibility when it comes to implementation of
3.2.5 Scaling up
such vaccination programmes (32).
Small-scale and pilot programmes to prevent and control
sexually transmitted diseases provide only limited geo-
Clinical trials found that a vaccine against herpes simplex
graphical and population coverage and cannot be expected
virus type 2 was highly effective compared with a placebo,
to have a meaningful impact on disease burden. Many
but effectiveness was only in women, and only in women
programmes tend to implement interventions on a small
who had not been previously infected with herpes simplex
pilot scale, which, though producing good results, do not
virus type 1 (34). As more research and clinical trials con-
reach a wider population for a greater impact. To achieve
tinue, country programme managers should engage in dis-
greater impact, prevention and care interventions must be
cussions on conducting herpes simplex virus type 2 vaccine
evaluated for their technical elements and those found to be
trials in different epidemiological settings to evaluate utility,
effective must be scaled up. The objectives of scaling up are
acceptability and feasibility, while at the same time building
to ensure that an effective intervention reaches the popula-
capacity for research and implementation.
tions in need of the service. This means increasing geo-
For a successful implementation of any vaccination strategy, the target population must be carefully defined and
the acceptability of the vaccine must be assured, especially
within a population that may not perceive itself as at risk
graphical coverage and the number of people served within
a particular target population, extending a programme to
reach additional target populations, and broadening the
scope of interventions provided by a programme.
for sexually transmitted infections. Once the population has
Scaling up such programmes will have the greatest impact
been defined and mobilized to accept the vaccine, it will be
when it is focused on priority target populations (i.e. those
important to provide that population – reliably and consis-
that affect the dynamics of the spread of sexually transmit-
tently – with a potent vaccine to ensure the success of an
ted infections most) and reaches as many individuals as
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
possible within those populations. Scaling up also requires
the systems that are already in place for reporting as part
a special focus on:
of integrated disease surveillance. The state of the HIV
s quality of services, as there is a risk of trading off quality against intensity of efforts to reach more people;
epidemic in a particular country also has implications for
activities and priorities for surveillance of sexually transmitted infections (51,52).
s absorptive capacity, i.e. ensuring sufficient resources
are available to support the scaling up;
s sustainability: before scaling up, mechanisms for sustained provision of care should be established.
Second-generation HIV surveillance
Surveillance of sexually transmitted infections is closely
linked to and has a special role in second-generation HIV
surveillance; the latter includes, in addition to HIV surveil-
3.3 Improving information for policy
and programme development
lance and AIDS case reporting, behavioural surveillance
in order to monitor trends in risk behaviour over time and
surveillance of sexually transmitted infections in order to
monitor the spread of other such infections in populations
3.3.1 Surveillance
at risk for HIV. For example, findings of studies on herpes
Surveillance of sexually transmitted infections at the
simplex virus type 2 infections can be used as markers for
national, regional and global levels needs to be enhanced
HIV vulnerability. Strengthening of surveillance of sexually
for the purposes of advocacy, programme design, monitor-
transmitted infections is, therefore, an important compo-
ing and evaluation, and patient care. The basic components
nent of second-generation HIV surveillance.
of surveillance that need to be enhanced include the following:
s case-reporting that disaggregates by age and sex
(syndromic or etiological reports depending on the
availability of diagnostic tests; universal or sentinel-site
reports depending on whether a functional national
reporting system for notifiable infectious diseases
exists as well as on how services for prevention and
control of sexually transmitted infections are delivered
and organized);
s prevalence assessment and monitoring to identify and
Surveillance of sexually transmitted infections should be
closely linked to behavioural surveys, especially to surveys
on sexual behaviours, determinants of the epidemiology of
such infections and health-care seeking behaviours and
their relationship to underdetection and underreporting of
these infections. Surveillance is also important in assessing
which population groups should receive targeted interventions.
Periodically, there is a need to perform special studies to
focus on other surveillance issues that are not part of the
track the burden of infection (symptomatic and asymp-
routine case reporting or prevalence assessment. These
tomatic) in defined populations;
studies can include investigations for outbreaks of particu-
s assessment of etiology of infection;
s antimicrobial resistance monitoring;
s special studies, for example assessment of quality of
care using mystery clients.
The above components are complementary activities, and
the ways in which each one of them is performed will
depend on the existing surveillance infrastructure and on
lar infections, such as syphilis, lymphogranuloma venereum
and chancroid in certain populations and geographical settings.
The private sector, to the greatest extent possible, should
be included in the reporting system, despite the reluctance
often encountered to report sexually transmitted infections
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
to public health authorities because of concerns about pri-
Data for patient care
vacy and stigmatization, apathy, or a perception that little is
Antimicrobial resistance to commonly used medicines that
to be gained from the notification process. In many coun-
took decades to develop continues to diminish their effec-
tries patients with such infections seek to obtain medica-
tiveness. Resistance develops largely because medicines
tion directly from pharmacies or the informal private sector,
are misused through indiscriminate use and over-prescrib-
without first seeking diagnosis from a clinician. This prac-
ing. Medicines are misused by patients who do not com-
tice can be a source of a substantial amount of underreport-
plete prescribed courses either because of non-adherence
ing, and special studies could be necessary to determine its
or poverty; poverty often forces both health-care providers
extent and the magnitude of underreporting. Incentives to
and their patients to opt for lower doses of prescribed medi-
encourage reporting should be considered. Some of these
cations or cheaper, less effective alternatives in order to
could include accreditation or franchising.
save money. Ironically, far more expensive medicines must
Current surveillance systems need to be strengthened
through improving laboratory facilities, materials and per-
replace cheaper ones once the latter lose their effectiveness.
sonnel, and enforcing reporting mechanisms, especially
It is essential that health authorities regularly monitor and
when diagnostic facilities are in place. As current surveil-
detect the relative prevalence of pathogens responsible
lance systems are further limited by underestimation of the
for the clinical presentations in the local settings and the
burden attributable to asymptomatic sexually transmitted
emergence of resistance, so that treatment guidelines and
infections, accompanying strategies for screening and
national lists of essential medicines can be kept up to date.
case-finding need to be put in place.
Sexually transmitted organisms that particularly warrant
monitoring include Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Haemophilus
Data for advocacy
The timely collection of reliable data is required to estimate
ducreyi among the bacteria and herpes simplex virus type
2 among the viruses.
the burden of sexually transmitted infections, including their
complications and their economic impact. In turn, this infor-
As levels of resistance vary widely from one country to
mation provides the rationale for enhanced policy attention
another, WHO does not recommend any one single first-
and resource allocation to control such infections at the
line treatment for gonorrhoea. Instead, each country must
national, regional and global levels.
make decisions according to its own resistance patterns
– a quandary, given that many cannot afford surveillance
Data for programme design and monitoring
and have to rely on proxy data gathered by neighbouring
Timely and reliable data are also required to support pro-
countries or use regional estimates.
gramme management. Prevalence studies in various populations help to assess the distribution of sexually trans-
3.3.2 Monitoring and evaluation
mitted infections, identify priority target populations and
Progress of programme implementation needs to be moni-
estimate the burden of asymptomatic infections in a com-
tored in order to ensure that activities are performed as
munity. Trend data are useful to evaluate the effectiveness
planned, on time and within budgeted resources, and deter-
and impact of control programmes and interventions, and
mine whether the activities are producing the expected out-
also serve as biological markers of trends in unsafe sexual
come or impact. There is a lack of data at the implemen-
tation level that makes it difficult to measure accurately
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of various inter-
Further, it is important that the results of such monitoring,
ventions. Such information is important for priority setting,
which could be limited to operational research, are linked
strategic planning and resource allocation. A data collection
in a meaningful way with programme implementation. The
and analysis process should be established to monitor the
results should be used to evaluate and improve the ongoing
programmes and in the design of new ones. More operational research is needed to examine which interventions
s service delivery (e.g. numbers of clients served, preg-
work best in particular settings, and research on issues
nant women screened and treated for syphilis, con-
related to women’s sexual and reproductive health should
doms distributed, and individuals referred for voluntary
be conducted in order to guide the formulation of gender-
counselling and testing);
sensitive strategies and interventions.
s quality of care provided (e.g. proportion of clients
treated according to national guidelines using standard
s adequacy of staffing patterns (e.g. patient load); client
3.4 Interface with other programmes
and partners
response and satisfaction (e.g. total number of
s clients served, initial versus repeat or return visits, and
3.4.1 Public sector health programmes
proportion using facilities as first treatment option);
Sexually transmitted infections are implicated in pro-
s capital and recurrent programme costs to assess effi-
grammes concerned with adolescent health, family plan-
ciency and cost-effectiveness.
ning, women’s health, safe motherhood, immunization,
child survival and HIV prevention. These programmes are
interdependent and strategically should be integrated or
have interfaces. These interfaces are indispensable for
broadening the coverage of interventions for clients, and
reducing missed opportunities for the prevention, detection
and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. It should
also strengthen the collaboration between the public and
private health sectors for better quality and wider coverage.
However, such interfacing or integration is made difficult
by the need to accommodate additional tasks in existing
programmes, particularly when the health goals of the
new tasks are different from those of the existing services.
Additional supervision, and financial and managerial support, might be required. Until these are in place, integration cannot be assumed to have been established. Although
interfacing and integration facilitate increased coverage for
clients, access to health care and management planning,
they are not easy to achieve or cheaper in the first instance.
Benefits are felt and appreciated only after initial difficulties
and costs.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
significantly at two weeks. Blood plasma viral RNA concen-
The predominant mode of transmission of HIV and other
trations did not change. There was no significant change in
sexually transmitted infections is sexual. Other routes of
seminal plasma HIV-1 RNA concentrations during the two-
transmission for both include injecting drug use, transfu-
week period in the control group. These results suggest
sion of blood and blood products, transplantation of donated
that treating urethritis decreases the infectiousness of men
organs or tissue, and vertical transmission from a mother to
with HIV-1 infection, and give further evidence that HIV/AIDS
her fetus or newborn infant. Many of the measures for pre-
control programmes that include detection and treatment
venting the sexual transmission of HIV and other pathogens
of other sexually transmitted infections in patients already
are the same, as are the target audiences and populations
infected with HIV-1 could help to curb the epidemic.
for the interventions.
Treatment of sexually transmitted infections is a cost-
Some sexually transmitted infections, when present, facili-
effective option for countries to invest in, both as a means
tate the transmission of HIV. Some studies have demon-
of reducing the serious morbidity caused by such infec-
strated that ulcerative infections are implicated to varying
tions and as an intervention to prevent HIV. Therefore,
degrees, with relative risks ranging from 1.5 to 8.5 (see
programmes on all such infections should establish and
Table 2). The increase in transmission probability for HIV
maintain strong linkages and complement each other’s
infection per single sexual act is probably much higher than
efforts, given the synergistic interactions between HIV and
the relative risks observed in cohort studies, because par-
other sexually transmitted infections and the common ele-
ticipants are not continuously affected by a sexually trans-
ments for prevention of both. Already, in many regions and
mitted infection during the follow-up period. Although the
countries of the world, programmes on sexually transmitted
cofactor effect seems to be higher for ulcerative diseases,
infections and HIV are fully or partially integrated or coordi-
non-ulcerative infections could be more important in some
nated through joint planning.
populations because of their frequency and prevalence.
More recently, intervention studies have added information
and weight to the sexually transmitted infection/HIV cofactor effect.
Areas of collaboration between these programmes include
advocacy, policy formulation, training, programme planning
and evaluation, surveillance and research. The two sets of
programmes should not only collaborate but also share their
The community-based randomized control trial in the
resources for planning and implementing these activities.
Mwanza district of the United Republic of Tanzania showed
They can work together to:
that strengthened case management of symptomatic
s educate clients on risk behaviours and prevention
patients, by using syndromic management provided through
methods at the health-centre level and in the commu-
the existing primary health-care clinics, reduced HIV inci-
nity, involving the public and private sectors alike
dence by 38%. A study conducted in Malawi among HIV-1
seropositive men showed that men with urethritis had HIV-1
RNA concentrations in seminal plasma eight times higher
than those in seropositive men without urethritis (16). Gonorrhoea was associated with the greatest concentration of
s offer counselling and confidential, voluntary testing for
HIV to enable individuals to know their HIV status and
be appropriately evaluated for antiretroviral treatment
s offer effective treatment for other established sexually
HIV-1 in semen. After the urethritis patients received antimi-
transmitted infections to improve the quality of life of
crobial therapy directed against sexually transmitted infec-
persons living with HIV and to reduce infectivity
tions, the concentration of HIV-1 RNA in semen decreased
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Table 2.
Studies on sexually transmitted infection as risk factor for HIV transmission
Study population
Sexually transmitted
infection studied
Plummer, 1991
Female sex workers, Kenya
Laga, 1993
Female sex workers, Democratic Republic
of the Congo
Kassler, 1994
Heterosexual cohort, United States of
Craib, 1995
Cohort of MSM, Canada
Rectal gonorrhoea
Cameron, 1989
Heterosexual men, Kenya
Mainly chancroid
Telzak, 1993
Heterosexual men, United States of America
GUD, chancroid
Limpakarnjanarat, 1999
Female sex workers, Thailand
GUD and herpes
Mbizvo, 1996
Antenatal care women, Zimbabwe
Bollinger, 1997
Sexually transmitted infection clinic
attendees, India
Stamm, 1988
MSM, United States of America
Herpes, syphilis
Holmberg, 1988
MSM, United States of America
Darrow, 1987
MSM, United States of America
Relative risk
Odds ratio
MSM, men who have sex with men; GUD, genital ulcer disease; PID, pelvic inflammatory disease.
s develop and implement strategies in order to improve
Sexual and reproductive health
access to appropriate, safe and effective medicines and
The interface between services for sexually transmitted
condoms of high quality at affordable prices;
infections and sexual and reproductive health is extensive.
s ensure that national investments in health systems
Both seek to improve the quality of life and, in particular,
infrastructure and commodity distribution systems con-
the sexual and reproductive life of women and men. The
tribute to improving the quality and accessibility of care
two sets of services engage in the following key areas of
for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV;
s ensure a comprehensive prenatal care package that
s Improving access to services for prevention and control
includes screening for infections such as HIV infection
of sexually transmitted infection. As antenatal, mater-
and syphilis.
nal and child health, and family planning clinics serve
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
many women of reproductive age, they constitute a
ods for partner notification in the case of a sexually
network of health facilities that have the potential to
transmitted infection need to be explored in order to
expand the reach and coverage for care of sexually
avoid violence. There is a need to identify successful
transmitted infections to a significant segment of the
case studies of partner notification in different cultural
general female population that would otherwise not be
settings, and at the same time to initiate operational
reached through specialized clinics and general cura-
research to learn how to conduct partner notification in
tive medical services. Age-appropriate health educa-
a more acceptable manner across different sociocul-
tion and counselling for these infections and their risk
tural and religious settings.
factors can be provided and help in further prevention
of infection. Through the establishment of systematic
screening programmes, women with asymptomatic
infections could be detected and treated, and many
adverse pregnancy outcomes of untreated infections
s Improving women’s health. Sexually transmitted infections and reproductive tract infections contribute significantly to a woman’s ill-health by increasing her risk
of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, cervical cancer, spontaneous abortion and HIV infection. Prevention, detection
and early treatment of sexually transmitted infections,
therefore, constitute key elements in women’s health
s Ensuring contraceptive choice and safety. As the pres-
s Screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Screening and treatment can improve health
outcomes following abortion, as the presence of an
infection in the lower reproductive tract at the time
of abortion is a risk factor for post-procedural complications (53). Therefore, pre-abortion management
of these infections is an important step in preventing
post-procedural infections.
s Incorporating gender-sensitive approaches. Services for
sexually transmitted infections and sexual and reproductive health both face similar challenges of incorporating gender-sensitive approaches, in particular involving men, reaching marginalized or otherwise neglected
populations (such as sex workers, substance users, the
poor people in urban and rural areas, migrant popula-
ence of some sexually transmitted or reproductive tract
tions, displaced persons and refugees) and responding
infections restricts a woman’s access to the full range
to adolescents’ special needs.
of contraceptives, and since the contraceptive user may
attribute the symptoms of such an infection to a sideeffect of a particular contraceptive method (leading to
decreased acceptance and discontinuation of contraceptive methods), screening and treatment of sexually
transmitted infections, together with counselling on
dual protection, are important elements in ensuring
contraceptive choice and safety.
s Dealing with sexual and gender-based violence. Vio-
s Preventing reproductive tract infections. These infections, other than those that are sexually transmitted,
usually present with symptoms that can be mistaken
for a sexually transmitted infection. The endogenous
reproductive tract infections, e.g. bacterial vaginosis
and candidiasis, result from alterations in the balance
of normal, protective bacterial flora in a woman’s reproductive tract. Bacterial vaginosis is the most prevalent
reproductive tract infection in the world, and it is the
lence against women can have serious consequences
most prevalent cause of vaginal discharge in develop-
for women’s reproductive health, including the acquisi-
ing countries. Up to 50% of pregnant women have been
tion of sexually transmitted infections. Treatment of
found to have bacterial vaginosis in sub-Saharan Africa.
those infections and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV
Bacterial vaginosis has been implicated as a cause of
after rape need to be offered. Gender-sensitive meth-
preterm birth, low birth weight, preterm pre-rupture of
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
membranes, postpartum sepsis and spontaneous mis34
carriage (54). Bacterial vaginosis has also been implicated in the transmission of HIV infection (55). Education for the prevention of reproductive tract infections
and their complications requires a common approach
with services for control of sexually transmitted infections within reproductive health-care settings.
s Promotion of safe transcervical procedures. For
example, clients should be checked or treated for
endogenous or sexually transmitted infections before
insertion of the contraceptive intrauterine device or
termination of pregnancy, in order to avoid ascending bacterial contamination of the upper genital tract.
Alternatively, women who select to use the intrauterine
device should be encouraged to choose a different form
of contraception if they consider themselves at risk of
tion (urban, rural or inaccessible remote locations), age
exposure to a sexually transmitted infection (56).
and different life-skills is essential for better targeting
s Scaling up provision of existing and potential vaccines
and tailoring responses to the burden of sexually trans-
to prevent genital and liver cancers and some sexually
mitted infections and their complications and long-term
transmitted infections. Collaboration and joint planning
between programmes against sexually transmitted
s Prevention of congenital syphilis. Effective prevention
infections and those for sexual and reproductive health,
of congenital syphilis depends first on prevention of
within national immunization programmes, will facili-
syphilis in pregnant women. If that fails, then second-
tate the roll-out of existing and potential vaccines such
ary prevention involves screening for syphilis during
as hepatitis B and human papillomavirus vaccines, and
pregnancy and providing adequate treatment for both
provide a ready channel for the introduction of any new
the woman and her sexual partner. Given the high
social and economic costs of congenital syphilis and
In addition, sexual and reproductive health services are best
the possibility of changes in the epidemiology of syphi-
positioned to ensure the health of women, neonates and
lis, prenatal syphilis screening followed by treatment of
children in collaboration with sexually transmitted infection
seroreactive women is a highly cost-effective interven-
programmes. Thus, sexual and reproductive health services
tion for the prevention of congenital syphilis and the
should ensure the following:
complications of untreated syphilis in the parents, even
in settings with prevalence rates of below 1%. Services
s Health education to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, including their long-term
sequelae such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancy and genital cancers. Gender
inequalities, culturally constructed roles and biological
factors all contribute to women’s and young people’s
vulnerability to infections. Recognizing the influence of
ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, geographical loca-
should take the following actions.
– Pregnant women should routinely be screened du
ing their first prenatal visit, ideally before 28 weeks
of gestation (57). In communities where the risk for
congenital syphilis is high, a policy to institute a
second screening test at 36 weeks or at delivery
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
should be considered. Clear national guidelines will
policy-makers, educators, and a variety of professionals
need to be developed on clinical and serological
who deliver social and health care and basic social ser-
follow-up for both mother and child.
vices when sexual exploitation or abuse is suspected.
Screening and exclusion of a sexually transmissible
– Discussion concerning treatment of sexually tran
mitted infections in sexual partners should be held
agent, including HIV, should be performed by a trained
and an assessment of the risk of reinfection should
child clinician following locally defined procedures and
be made and appropriate action taken.
guidelines. A standardized approach to the management of sexually transmitted infections in children and
– As with other sexually transmitted infections,
pregnant women found to have syphilis should be
adolescents who are suspected of having been sexually
offered voluntary counselling and confidential testing
abused is important because the infection could be
for HIV. In high HIV prevalence settings, voluntary
asymptomatic (44). Psychological and social support
counselling and testing should be offered to all
should be included for complete management of these
pregnant women.
young patients.
s Prevention of neonatal blindness. Prophylaxis against
ophthalmia neonatorum among neonates has been
shown to be highly cost effective where the prevalence
of gonorrhoea among pregnant women is 1% or more
Adolescent health services
Sexually transmitted infections are a major health risk to all
sexually active adolescents.5 Every year, one in 20 adolescents contracts sexually a bacterial infection, and the age
s Assessment and management of sexually exploited
and abused children. Sexual exploitation and abuse of
children and adolescents have come to be recognized
as serious social problems that require the attention of
WHO has defined adolescents as persons in the 10–19 years age
group, while youth has been defined as the 15–24 years age group.
“Young people” is a combination of these two overlapping groups,
covering the range 10–24 years (58).
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
at which infections are acquired is becoming younger (59).
3.4.2 The private sector
Most projects to improve sexual and reproductive health
Although free public-sector services are available even in
for adolescents have focused on sexual health counselling
most resource-poor countries, they might not always be
and family planning but have neglected care for sexually
acceptable to the clients or have appropriate health person-
transmitted infections among their service-delivery objec-
nel or the necessary medicines available. The private sector
tives. Involving parents and young people at the appropriate
or traditional healers and informal providers are frequently
age of maturity in the planning and implementation of inter-
the first port of call for patients with sexually transmitted
ventions for them is crucial in making an impact on their
infections, even for those who believe that government
behaviour. Programmes, including sexual and reproductive
health clinics are technically superior. Private providers,
health services as part of primary health care, should, at a
whether medically qualified or not, are more acceptable
minimum, institute and provide the following basic inter-
to many people because they are perceived to offer better
access and confidentiality, and often have the reputation of
s Strengthening surveillance of sexually transmitted
infections among adolescents and young people. Data
need to be stratified by age and sex to enable an
being less stigmatizing than public sector facilities. Selfmedication, following direct over-the-counter purchases
from pharmacists, druggists and vendors, is also common.
appropriate programme assessment and response to
Given this scenario, public policy and interventions should
meet the needs of adolescents.
necessarily involve the private and informal sectors, and
s Improving the awareness and knowledge of adoles-
public-private partnerships should be established in the
cents about sexually transmitted infections and their
provision of care for sexually transmitted infections. Effec-
complications, and how to prevent them. Appropriate
tive and appropriate regulatory measures should be taken
sexual education and consistent access to male and
by governments to ensure technical quality and account-
female condoms, with clear messages about correct
and consistent use, should be available to all who need
them. This will lead to the common goal of improving
the sexual health and well-being of adolescents.
s Improving adolescents’ access to services. It is unlikely
that one model for the delivery of care for sexually
transmitted infections will suffice to meet the needs
of all adolescents. Services can build on those that
already exist, including: adult health clinics made
youth-friendly through special training of health-care
providers; sexual and reproductive health clinics
dedicated to adolescents; “one-stop shops” where all
health-care services for young people can be obtained;
multi-purpose youth health centres; and age-appropriate school-based or linked services (60). However, new
innovative formats such as mobile clinics might be
required to reach the most vulnerable youth, including
sex workers and street children, particularly during
main festivals and events.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
ability in the private sector services. Strategies for collabo-
disadvantages of the different types of providers of care.
ration and quality control should be examined at the country
Consumer advocacy groups can be established, and well-
level; these can include training of pharmacists and private
informed and discerning patients can also help to improve
practitioners on case management and national guidelines.
care. Consumers can be encouraged to use providers who
Governments should explore how to establish formal rela-
adhere to predefined, agreed and well-publicized quality
tions for the promotion of appropriate care with pharma-
standards. Strategies to engage the community include the
cists’ unions, traditional healers’ associations and other
following activities:
providers, depending on the setting and prevailing policies,
laws and regulations. This should be done in collaboration
with the communities themselves.
s providing information in order to increase community
awareness of the problem and increase community
demand for interventions and services;
3.4.3 Community involvement
s holding ongoing consultations with the community;
The involvement of the community in decisions that affect
s involving the community in the design and implementa-
their health is important, and programmes to control sexually transmitted infections need to devise mechanisms
for obtaining input from the whole community through
appropriate representatives of civil society. This can best
be achieved by forming partnerships with nongovernmen-
tion of interventions;
s sharing accountability and responsibility with the community for programme outcomes;
s involving local political leaders and opinion-makers,
tal organizations, faith-based organizations, community-
including traditional and faith leaders, in advocacy for
based organizations and the private sector. Communities
prevention and care of sexually transmitted infections.
should be educated about the availability, advantages and
Religious and faith-based organizations are often instrumental in shaping opinions, attitudes and behaviour of
the followers of the faith and the community in general.
In many places they are uniquely placed to provide health
education on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections
through their extensive networks that reach even the most
remote villages and communities. These community-based
organizations can be vital partners in promoting prevention,
counselling, home care, clinical care and even advanced
treatment as well as reducing stigmatization and discrimination. They should, therefore, be engaged in discussions
on sexuality, gender and sexually transmitted infections,
including HIV, in order to facilitate and enhance an environment for open discussion of these issues. Strengthening
collaboration with, and capacity of, these organizations is
important to ensure that they work more effectively in partnership with governments and others in the prevention and
control of sexually transmitted infections.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
3.4.4 Other partners
ing resource mobilization, pooling, allocation and payment),
There are several other partners and stakeholders who
stewardship and regulatory guardianship (to ensure quality
should be included in the response to sexually transmit-
and equity) and public–private partnerships to extend the
ted infections, depending on the setting. These can include
reach of the programme to the largest coverage possible.
other government departments such as education and
labour, sports and cultural authorities, police and border control officials, and private companies such as the
transport and tourism industries, among others. Different
strategies for prevention and control can be explored with
them, including prevention and care in the education sector
and the workplace. Mechanisms should be developed to
encourage organizations to be accountable for such care.
In some settings there is a need for cross-border collaboration to establish interventions among cross-border traders,
temporary or permanent migrants, displaced persons and
persons whose occupation puts them in a different place at
one time or another in the course of their work.
3.5 Strengthening the capacity of
health systems for effective service
Health systems, broadly defined as comprising all the organizations, institutions and resources devoted to producing
health actions, are a prerequisite to the establishment,
delivery and monitoring of programmes on sexually transmitted diseases and the success of their outcomes. The
capacity of each country’s health system will largely determine the extent to which national programmes are able
to provide high quality care with the largest geographical
spread, reaching disadvantaged and targeted populations
in order to achieve a measurable impact on reducing the
burden of sexually transmitted and other reproductive tract
infections, while preventing new infections. The ability to
provide services in an equitable manner is an important
consideration, particularly given the stigmatization that surrounds the primary prevention and treatment of sexually
transmitted infections. In many resource-limited settings,
health systems are overstretched, inadequately funded and
ill-equipped to cope with the present and future demands
for care. In strengthening health systems, a special focus
must be placed on financing to ensure sustainability (includ-
In countries where health system reform is under way,
efforts should be undertaken to ensure that services for
people with sexually transmitted infections are considered
in the process. Priority-setting processes that are used to
select an essential package of health interventions for primary care should reflect the significant contribution of these
infections to the burden of reproductive ill-health. The goals
of reform (improving quality, equity and client responsiveness – as well as sustainability and efficiency) must also
take into consideration providers of health care for those
with such infections. In particular, financing by the private
sector and the effective engagement of the private sector
should be used to expand access to care.
The health system response must be based on an analysis of the epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections,
sexual risk behaviours and vulnerabilities, patterns of
health-seeking behaviour and the skills and attitudes of
health-care providers. Based on the findings of the analysis, a comprehensive programme for prevention and control
should be developed to cover all the population groups for
which interventions are required. Care-delivery strategies
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
should be tailored to the needs of the particular population
access to care, and a client-oriented approach should be
groups for whom they are intended. The programme should
adopted in all settings. Particular attention should be given
include a continuum of all aspects of prevention and control
to gender equity, adolescents, and poor and marginal-
of sexually transmitted infections, including health promo-
ized groups when planning the services. Services should
tion, curative services, linkages to family planning, sexual
be made more user-friendly by improving factors such as
and reproductive health, immunization, HIV/AIDS and other
distance to residence, professionalism of health-care staff,
services. It should expand the collaboration among its dif-
privacy, confidentiality and reduction of waiting time. The
ferent partners, in both the public and private sectors, for a
private sector, including pharmacists and other dispens-
multisectoral response.
ers of medicines, needs to be engaged and committed to
providing good quality services, including measures for
The programme should also include a plan for monitoring
regulatory supervision and control. Communities and con-
the impact of the implementation of the interventions. The
sumers should be educated on health matters in general
provision of timely data on programme performance and
and sexually transmitted infections in particular, by stress-
impact will assist in securing resources for additional activi-
ing the importance of having these infections diagnosed
ties, and provide an evidence base for future programme
and treated by a trained health professional. The price or
availability of medicines and condoms can be a barrier
3.5.1 Access to services
to access for some populations. Policies may need to be
changed in order to improve the availability of medicines
In most countries, patients with sexually transmitted infec-
and options such as subsidies for poor people, widespread
tions have a choice of settings from which to seek care.
condom provision for all population subgroups, coverage
Public providers compete with many different types of
of diagnostic expenses in health insurance schemes, and
qualified and unqualified private providers and traditional
referral mechanisms for higher-level care may need to be
practitioners. In both the public and private sectors, poten-
considered. Outreach may improve access to care for hard-
tial sources of care include specialized clinics, hospital out-
to-reach populations, where needed.
patient departments of other specialties such as obstetrics
and gynaecology, dermatology or urology, dispensaries and
3.5.2 Quality assurance
primary health-care centres, and family planning, maternal
Decentralization and privatization of the medical sector are
and child health and antenatal care clinics. The extent to
two of the components of health sector reform embarked
which services are offered through primary care centres
upon by governments. A key challenge for governments is
or specialized clinics will depend on the epidemiological,
ensuring quality in the large and rapidly growing private
organizational and resource circumstances and should take
sector, about whose role and practices there is little infor-
into account the health-care seeking behaviours and pref-
mation. Governments must fulfil the core public function of
erences of the different subpopulations.
stewardship and put in place processes that ensure good
In many settings, the problem is one of an unmet need
for good quality care for people with sexually transmitted
infections. Providing a supply of care in the public sector
does not necessarily lead to better coverage for priority
populations, even when such services are of a technically
superior quality and are offered free of charge. Additional
factors need to be taken into account in order to achieve
quality of care for the population, both in the public and
private sectors.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
National guidelines for case management of sexually
transmitted infections
as community-based consumer educational campaigns in
In order to promote good-quality case management, guide-
care. There is an important role for accrediting pre-service
lines based on identified patterns of infection and disease
and in-service training programmes in helping to ensure
should be developed and disseminated to all providers of
quality (including the monitoring of training curricula and
care related to sexually transmitted infections. The pro-
requirements for continuing medical education).
local languages, can help to ensure standards for quality of
cesses of elaborating, adopting and disseminating guidelines should involve representatives of both the public and
Where the capacity to monitor and enforce regulations is
private sectors. Training on the content and use of national
limited or non-existent, as is the case in many resource-
guidelines should be imparted to both public sector health
limited settings, national and local policy-makers should
workers and private sector health-care providers.
find incentives for rewarding good practice. Accreditation or
other forms of recognition linked to payment modalities of
A syndromic approach to management of sexually transmit-
private providers (including health insurance coverage) who
ted infections overcomes many obstacles to the provision
provide comprehensive high-quality and reasonably-priced
of good-quality and efficient management, particularly (but
care for people with sexually transmitted infections (61) is
not only) in resource-limited settings. Although desirable,
one possible incentive. Incentive payments can be linked
etiological diagnosis for these infections is not feasible in
to the obligation to provide data to health authorities on
many resource-constrained settings. National experts and
a regular basis, participation in continuing medical educa-
committees should be consulted on the most appropriate
tion, and willingness to have practices audited. Other incen-
strategy for management of sexually transmitted infections
tives not linked to payments but of a financial nature could
that will benefit all sectors of the population in need of care.
include access to subsidized medicines or other commodi-
A carefully planned and implemented mixture of protocols
ties (e.g. a condom social marketing programme), preferen-
may be devised based on the financial, human and techni-
tial access to diagnostic and referral services, and options
cal resources available and the burden of disease.
to participate in schemes which franchise or contract out
service provision, such as vouchers or other forms of pre-
Licensing, certification and accreditation
payment given to the clients directly. Adherence to regula-
Licensing of professionals and certification of facilities help
tions can be enhanced by provision of adequate resources
to maintain the quality, safety and geographical distribution
to regulatory bodies, a clear distinction of roles between
of health-care services. Licensing and certification not only
regulators and those being regulated, and the establish-
apply to the health-service industry but also to the phar-
ment of consumer advocacy groups.
maceutical and health-insurance industries. Effective government stewardship functions through these enforcement
Peer review and self-regulation
mechanisms, which are best established through strong
Settings that have effective regulatory mechanisms in place
ties with, and broad participation of, the private sector. Pro-
are characterized by frequent dialogue in a range of dif-
fessional associations and other self-regulatory bodies that
ferent venues between government and professional asso-
function outside of or in partnership with government are an
ciations in the private sector. Professional associations and
essential element of regulatory and quality control.
provider networks can be called upon to exert peer pressure and promote self-regulation in partnership with gov-
Accreditation is a process of certifying that a facility meets
ernment. For example, they can promote a high quality of
certain standards, and is often linked to coverage of proce-
service provision by their members through the introduction
dures by health insurance schemes. Provider licensing and
of professional points (or continuing education credits) for
certification supported by professional associations, as well
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
attending sessions and workshops that educate and update
Most important, however, is the establishment of a pro-
participants. However, several randomized controlled trials
gramme at the district level with agreed goals and objec-
have found that continuing medical education programmes
tives, standard protocols, performance targets and annual
that are not linked to financial incentives or access to bet-
or semi-annual review sessions. The link with the referral
ter working conditions have limited success in improving
centre then becomes more comprehensive and interactive,
practice (62).
which thereby establishes a more meaningful and motivational relationship among staff.
Supportive supervision and monitoring
Regular supervisory and monitoring visits to health facilities
3.5.3 Financing services
are an important component of ensuring the continued pro-
Financing and payment are central functions for any health-
vision of good quality care and sustaining provider morale
care system, and involve four distinct functions: resource
and motivation, as also demonstrated in the trial in Mwanza
mobilization, resource pooling, resource allocation, and
(United Republic of Tanzania). Such supervisory visits need
payment and purchasing. Although every health system
not be confined to the public sector. They can be adapted
carries out these functions, each will organize them differ-
to the private sector to maintain quality, provide continuing
ently, reflecting variation in institutional structures, societal
education and serve as a means of collaboration between
expectations and systems of governance. Health system
the private and the public sectors. Supervisory visits need
financing has a strong impact on programme coverage,
to adopt a facilitation process in order not to be a threat to
equity and health outcomes.
the health-care providers, but rather a source of encouragement, and a means of updating health-care providers and
Resource mobilization for activities for prevention and con-
constantly improving quality of care. Training of supervisors
trol of sexually transmitted infections is necessarily linked
is important, so that they can reorient their skills to being
to that for HIV/AIDS programmes. Ensuring that adequate
supportive rather than judgemental and fault-finding.
funds are devoted to prevention and control of other infections within the overall HIV/AIDS funding envelope is an
Referral centres
essential aspect of both international and national fund-
Establishment of national and regional centres for referral
raising decisions, particularly given the need to scale up
of complicated cases and confirmatory diagnosis improves
existing interventions for control of sexually transmitted
quality control. Referral protocols, specifying when and
infections. Given that prevention and control of those infec-
where to refer, should be part of the standard management
tions are part and parcel of HIV funding, policies relating
protocols developed for all health workers involved in care
to user fees for care of those with HIV and other sexually
for people with sexually transmitted infections. High drop-
transmitted infections should be the same.
out rates among referred patients are common (63). Care
should be taken not to send patients on long and expensive
journeys to centres that have nothing extra to offer.
Shifting the responsibility of resource mobilization to the
point of service delivery, through the introduction of user
fees, must necessarily include exemption schemes for poor
Active supervision and continuing medical education
people. Universal coverage will be achieved if pre-payment
through feedback on cases and formal in-service training
systems such as health insurance or social health insurance
sessions help to build the links between the centres. Con-
are developed rather than relying on user fees. As countries
sultations and communication between health centre and
move towards the creation or expansion of health insur-
referral centre by means of visits or radio link also facilitate
ance systems (public-provided, employment-based or pri-
the development of professional trust and confidence.
vately purchased schemes and community-based pooling
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
schemes), sexually transmitted infection programmes will
3.5.4 Human resources development
need to ensure that their medical procedures are included
Discussions about training in leadership, management and
in the benefit packages. In many resource-constrained
strategic planning, advocacy, commodity management,
countries, the cost of medicines is the largest portion of
health information systems and other functional areas
out-of-pocket expenses (those met by patients themselves
relevant to the management of national programmes on
rather than the health system or a health insurance) for
sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections are
an individual or household (64). Out-of-pocket expenditure
beyond the scope of this strategy, and should take place in
for all medicines can be as high as 65% of total cost of
the context of a broader development strategy for human
medicines in sub-Saharan Africa and 81% in Asia (65). In
capacity in the health sector. This section focuses on train-
industrialized countries it rarely exceeds 20% (66).
ing health personnel in the delivery of care for people with
Adequate or reasonably adequate financial flows at every
sexually transmitted infections.
level of the system improve the responsiveness and effec-
Projected personnel requirements for such services can
tiveness of service provision. In countries where such
be satisfied, to some extent, through the retention and
decisions are decentralized, financial allocations are often
retraining of existing health personnel and, in part, through
made at the local level, requiring the sexually transmitted
recruitment and training of additional staff. Members of
infection programme manager to have effective lobby-
the programme team should be trained for their respec-
ing presence and skills in elaborating and implementing
tive roles in management of different components of the
a business plan. In general, public health-care clinics in
programme. Health personnel should be trained according
resource-constrained countries are often poorly equipped
to their respective functional areas. For example, if health-
and inadequately financed, resulting in low staff morale.
care providers in antenatal care and family planning clinics
Flexibility in designing and implementing different payment
are expected to provide care to people with sexually trans-
and purchasing options that respond to local conditions
mitted infections, their training should reflect this. Similarly,
should be encouraged. Options from both the demand side
if physicians are expected to provide patient education and
(e.g. vouchers) and the supply side (e.g. incentive payments
counselling, their training should be broadened to include
as salary supplements) need to be tried.
these skills.
As many governments and donor agencies move towards
Medical schools and other tertiary educational institutions
sector-wide approaches to channel aid to the health sec-
need to play a greater role in comprehensive training on
tor, sexually transmitted infection programmes will be chal-
sexually transmitted infections, including all the aspects of
lenged to ensure that treatment and preventive activities
prevention, care and counselling, for physicians, nurses,
are valued in the definition of the sector’s goals and objec-
laboratory workers, pharmacists and public health staff dur-
tives. Through sector-wide approaches, funds are given
ing their basic training. Training in syndromic approaches,
to the entire health sector rather than to specific health
their application to sexually transmitted infections, scientific
projects, and ministries of health determine the priorities
basis and advantages and shortcomings should be incorpo-
within the health sector. While this is intended to improve
rated in the respective curricula. A component on sexually
efficiency, there is a risk that funding for services for people
transmitted infections should also be an essential feature of
with sexually transmitted infections, historically accorded a
postgraduate medical training curricula in public health.
low priority in developing country health budgets, will be
further curtailed.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
In-service training should be provided to all members of
laboratory tests take a considerable length of time to pro-
the health-care team, including clinicians, pharmacists and
cess, resulting in delays in treatment or loss to follow-up.
front-line workers such as clerks and receptionists. Train-
Reliability of laboratory results compounds the problem
ing should not be limited to the biomedical aspects of case
further, as test kits for the same organism differ from one
management but must also address provider attitudes and
manufacturer to another, and performance of the same
beliefs. Innovative approaches such as distance and com-
test can be subject to the experience of the technician and
puter-assisted learning should be explored.
the specimen collection technique, as well as the storage
and transport capacity of the health system. On account of
Professional associations can play an important role in
these limitations, laboratory support should be confined to
providing continuing medical education and skills updat-
situations where it is essential for programmatic or clinical
ing, particularly to private sector providers, through training
sessions, conferences, journal articles and mailings in the
form of newsletters and self-instruction manuals.
Good-quality laboratory systems should be established
wherever laboratory-based diagnoses of sexually transmit-
Continuing retraining (refresher training) of staff should be
ted infections are made, either for the diagnosis of individ-
based on the results of monitoring and evaluation of control
ual infections or for providing support for syndromic man-
of sexually transmitted infections and programmes for staff
agement. Appropriate training should be provided for all
development. Skills for prevention and control should be
laboratory personnel, and clear guidelines should be given
enhanced in other sectors as well as within communities
regarding which tests should be used by the laboratory, the
through strengthening capacities and building awareness.
interpretation of results obtained and expected turn-around
The role of community health workers in the management
times. Internal quality-control guidelines should be estab-
of sexually transmitted infections should be explored in set-
lished and adhered to, and participation in external quality-
tings where this cadre exists.
assurance programmes encouraged.
Albeit frequently neglected because of resource constraints,
Adequate laboratory support is important for an effective
follow-up and supervision are crucial aspects of training
control strategy; clear guidelines should be defined, stipu-
and of ensuring quality of care.
lating where laboratory facilities need to be strengthened
3.5.5 Laboratory support for programme
In many communities cost and inconsistent availability of
supplies, test kits and expertise severely limit the practicality and availability of laboratory investigations of sexually
transmitted infections. Even when such resources are available, the large numbers of cases of sexually transmitted
infections and the degree of difficulty in identifying some
of the organisms responsible, as well as frequent coinfections, make individual laboratory-based case management
impractical and unreliable in many settings. Also, most
and for what purpose. Laboratories should be established
and strengthened at national and regional levels and, where
feasible, laboratory support can be established at a local
level. Such a network of laboratories can work together to
strengthen services. To be cost effective, the network can
identify clear roles and areas of responsibility, as recommended on page 44.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
National level
s conducting epidemiological, sentinel and
etiological surveys to monitor disease trends
and effectiveness of interventions
s validating and adapting flowcharts for
recommendations and guidelines for syndromic
s establishing national proficiency and quality
control systems for the laboratory diagnosis of
sexually transmitted infections
Regional level
s conducting etiological surveys to monitor disease trends and effectiveness of interventions
s monitoring patterns of antimicrobial
s supporting regional proficiency and quality
control systems for the laboratory diagnosis of
sexually transmitted infections
s providing training workshops for laboratory
diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections
s providing training workshops for laboratory
diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections
s evaluating performance and cost-effectiveness
of new diagnostic tests
s collating data on antimicrobial susceptibility
patterns and making recommendations
s at referral centres, establishing diagnosis in
those cases that fail syndromic case management and those for medico-legal purposes (e.g.
rape or sexual abuse)
s initiating or strengthening screening
programmes, where feasible, for asymptomatic
gonococcal and chlamydial infections,
especially among target populations such as
sexually active young women and men
Local level
s supporting sentinel surveys
s providing routine serological testing for syphilis
in pregnant women
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
3.5.6 Procurement and logistics management
full range of such medicines can include using safe high-
In order to function effectively, health personnel should have
quality generic medicines, bulk purchasing to obtain the
access to medicines, supplies (e.g. gloves, syringes and
lowest price, differential pricing, financing strategies, and
laboratory supplies), condoms and medical equipment (e.g.
rationalizing the prescription of medicines (e.g. through the
examination tables, examination light, screens for privacy,
introduction of standardized protocols for management).
specula for vaginal examinations and sterilization equipment). Thus, the four basic elements of the logistics cycle
to be considered are the following:
s selection of supplies to be stocked (requiring coordination with the national government’s essential medicines
programme in order to ensure that the required medicines and commodities are licensed by the country’s
national regulatory authorities and included in the
country’s essential medicines and commodities lists);
s a procurement strategy that seeks to ensure that supplies are purchased at competitive and affordable
prices in an open and transparent process;
s a distribution system that ensures that supplies reach
the sites where they are needed on a regular basis
(recognizing that most medicines used in treating sexually transmitted infections are commonly used to treat
other infections);
s commodity management that ensures timely procurement, disbursement and replenishment of supplies.
Access to medicines for sexually transmitted infections is
poor in many developing countries, affected by factors such
as affordability, sustainable financing and erratic procurement, which lead to frequent shortages. Most medicines
are generic and not prohibitively expensive, yet the cost is
a significant contributor to the level of access in most developing countries. In fact, most of the medicines used in the
treatment are not specifically for sexually transmitted infections but are used to treat other diseases. An analysis needs
to be performed to identify the reasons for, and resolve the
problem of, inconsistent supply of medicines for management of these infections. Strategies to expand access to the
Other accompanying support mechanisms to promote
access to medicines can be looked at and considered from
region to region and country to country, and could involve
policy formulation, innovation and regulatory mechanisms.
Aspects to be considered could include:
s instituting a mandated multidisciplinary national body
to coordinate medicine use policies and introduce
appropriate and enforced regulations;
s establishment of medicines and therapeutic committees in districts and hospitals;
s problem-based training in pharmacotherapy in undergraduate curricula;
s continuing in-service medical education as a licensing
s public education in local languages about medicines;
s provision of independent medicine information for
prescribers, other than that obtained solely from the
pharmaceutical industry;
s supervision, audit and feedback of prescribers;
s sufficient government expenditure to ensure availability
of medicines and staff;
s avoidance of financial incentives from industry to prescribers who use certain medicines.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
3.6 Priority components for immediate
3.6.1 Good-quality case management
As a priority, countries must implement or scale up the pro-
infections must have, as a minimum, the following com-
vision of care for those with sexually transmitted infections
through key activities for which there is sufficient knowledge and evidence for impact and feasibility (Table 3, Prior-
Comprehensive case management of sexually transmitted
s correct diagnosis;
ity 1 activities). These interventions have been implemented
s effective treatment;
in many places with modest additional human and financial
s health education and counselling for risk avoidance
resources, but they have not been sufficiently scaled up
and risk reduction for sexually transmitted infections,
for maximum impact at national level. Some components
including HIV infection;
may be implemented within the “plan, do, assess and scale
up” concept in order to gather more information, gain more
knowledge and collect data, while providing service at the
same time. For interventions that may require substantial
additional human and financial resources, plans should
be made to implement them in a stepwise manner as
resources become available (Table 3, Priority 2 activities).
Each component needs to take into account the transmission dynamics, sexual networks, vulnerable populations and
service provision, while appreciating that a person with a
sexually transmitted infection may present with or without
symptoms at any of the many health facilities that exist in
the country.
s promotion and provision of condoms, and information
on their correct and consistent use;
s notification and treatment of sexual partners.
There is enough evidence that syndromic management is
effective and has had an impact on the epidemic of sexually
transmitted infections in many care settings. For example,
declines in incidence rates have been observed following
introduction of control strategies based on the syndromic
approach in several countries, including interventions
among sex workers in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and South
Africa, and in clinics for sexually transmitted infections in
Burkina Faso and Kenya (47,67). At community level, impact
has been demonstrated by studies in Uganda (Masaka) and
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
the United Republic of Tanzania (Mwanza (68,69). This
users, among others. A recent comparison of evidence-
approach is particularly effective for urethral discharge
based HIV prevention activities ranked interventions tar-
in men and genital ulcer disease in both men and women
geted at female sex workers first in terms of efficiency ratio
and effect and lowest in terms of cost and dependence on
the health system (77). Given existing knowledge of what
Syndromic management for urethral discharge and genital
works best and with allowance for innovative approaches
ulcer disease can be scaled up to cover at least 90% of
in some areas, priority areas for action for countries are
relevant primary point-of-care sites and patients presenting
proposed as follows:
with such conditions. The following are important in implementation:
s medicines logistics systems;
s training of health personnel;
s confidentiality;
s periodic validation of flowcharts in order to adapt them
s information about and interventions against sexually
transmitted infections to reach at least 90% of persons
identified as sex workers, male or female, and other
locally determined priority vulnerable groups;
s age-appropriate comprehensive sexual education in
schools, including review, development and provision of
to the epidemiological patterns of sexually transmitted
evidence-based and skills-based prevention education
infections in a given setting;
for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections;
s strategies for partner notification that include: noti-
s development and implementation of age-appropriate
fication of sexual partners by health-care providers;
media-based educational interventions (e.g. informa-
patient-delivered therapy, where applicable; use of the
tion and education on sex and relationships, sexuality
Internet, where applicable; and presumptive treatment
and correct and consistent condom use) in order to
of infections in sexual partners, especially those of
reach all young people and communities (through,
symptomatic men.
for instance, Internet online chat rooms, mass media,
advertisements, posters and postage stamps, and the-
3.6.2 Access to essential commodities and medicines
Access to an essential package of medicines and com-
atre with a focus on improved sexual behaviours);
s ensuring the availability of age-appropriate client-
modities is crucial for management, prevention and care,
friendly health-care services, particularly for adoles-
and should be maintained and improved. Every health-care
cents, through retraining of health-care providers and
facility that provides a service for control of sexually trans-
the implementation of client-centred policies for the
mitted infections should have available, as a minimum, a
provision of health care;
60-day reserve stock of the necessary commodities.
s endorsement and support of efforts to control bacterial
genital ulcer diseases and eliminate congenital syphilis
3.6.3 Interventions for high-risk and vulnerable populations
through an integrated syphilis and genital ulcer disease
Interventions should be put in place and scaled up to
– elimination of congenital syphilis is becoming
increase access to care, depending on locally determined
criteria and sensitive to local cultural values, for high-risk
and vulnerable populations, including young people, sex
workers, men who have sex with men, and injecting drug
control strategy, bearing in mind that:
increasingly easy to implement at national level;
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Table 3.
Summary of actionable interventions for immediate implementation
Priority 1 activities
National-level targets
1. Build on success. Scale up
of services for diagnosis and
treatment of sexually transmitted infections (use syndromic
management where diagnostic
resources are limited).
1(a). Proportion of primary point-of-care
sites providing comprehensive case
management for symptomatic infections.
1(a). 90% of primary point-of-care sites provide
comprehensive care for people with sexually
transmitted infections by 2015.
1(b). Proportion of patients with sexually
transmitted infections at selected health
facilities who are appropriately diagnosed,
treated and counselled according to
national guidelines.
1(b). By 2015, 90% of women and men with
sexually transmitted infections at health-care
facilities are appropriately diagnosed, treated and
2. Control congenital syphilis as a
step towards elimination.
2. Proportion of pregnant women aged
15–24 years attending antenatal clinics
with a positive serology for syphilis.
2(a). More than 90% of first-time antenatal
clinic attendees aged 15–24 years screened for
2(b). More than 90% of women seropositive for
syphilis treated adequately by 2015.
3(a). Strategies and guidelines on interventions
for HIV-positive patients with sexually transmitted
infections in place by 2010.
3. Scale up sexually transmitted
infection prevention strategies
and programmes for HIV-positive
3. Proportion of HIV-positive patients with
sexually transmitted infections who are
given comprehensive care including advice
on condom use and partner notification.
4. Upgrade surveillance of sexually transmitted infections within
the context of second-generation
HIV surveillance.
4(a). At least two rounds of prevalence surveys
4(a). Number of prevalence studies regularly conducted (at sentinel sites or in senti- conducted by 2015.
nel populations) every three to five years.
4(b). Routine reporting of sexually transmitted
4(b). Annual incidence of reported sexually infections established and sustained over at least
five consecutive years by 2015.
transmitted infections (syndromic or etiological reporting).
5. Control bacterial genital ulcer
5(a). Proportion of confirmed cases of
bacterial genital ulcer disease among
patients with genital ulcerative diseases.
5(b). Percentage of pregnant women aged
15–24 years attending antenatal clinics
with a positive serology for syphilis.
6. Build on success. Implement
targeted interventions in high-risk
and vulnerable populations.
6(a). Health needs identified and national
plans for control of sexually transmitted
infections, including HIV, for key high-risk
and vulnerable populations developed and
6(b). Proportion of young people (aged
15–24 years) with infections that were
detected during diagnostic testing for
sexually transmitted infections.
3(b). 90% of primary point-of-care sites provide
effective care to HIV-infected patients with sexually transmitted infections.
5(a). Zero cases of chancroid identified in patients
with genital ulcer disease by 2015.
5(b). Less than 2% of positive syphilis serology
among antenatal clinic attendees aged 15–24
6(a). By 2010, health needs, policies, legislation
and regulations reviewed; plans in place and
appropriately selected country-specific targeted
interventions implemented.
6(b). At least two rounds of prevalence surveys
conducted among groups with high-risk behaviour and among young people by 2015.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Priority 2 activities
National-level targets
7. Implement age-appropriate
comprehensive sexual health
education and services.
7(a). Review of policies and development of age7. Percentage of schools with at least one
appropriate training and information materials for
teacher who can provide life-skills-based
education about prevention of HIV and other schools completed by 2007.
sexually transmitted infections.
7(b). Increased number of teachers trained in
participatory life-skills-based HIV education that
includes other sexually transmitted infections by
8. Promote partner treatment and
prevention of reinfection.
8(a). Proportion of patients with sexually
transmitted infections whose partner(s) are
referred for treatment.
8(a). Plans and support materials for partner
notification developed, and health-care provider
training in place by 2010.
8(b). The proportion of patients who bring in, or
provide treatment to, their partner(s) doubled by
9. Support roll-out of effective
vaccines (against hepatitis B and
human papillomavirus and, potentially, herpes simplex virus type 2
9(a). Policy and plans for universal vaccination against hepatitis B.
10. Facilitate development and
implementation of universal optout voluntary counselling and testing for HIV among patients with
sexually transmitted infections.
10. Proportion of patients assessed for
sexually transmitted infections who are
routinely counselled and offered confidential testing for HIV.
9(b). Plans and policy reviews and
strategies for use of human papillomavirus
and potential herpes simplex virus type 2
9(a). Plans in place regarding vaccination against
hepatitis B and human papillomavirus infection
by 2008.
9(b). Pilot vaccination programmes initiated and
scaling up in progress by 2010.
10(a). HIV testing and counselling available in all
settings providing care for people with sexually
transmitted infections by 2015.
10(b). The proportion of patients with sexually
transmitted infections who receive voluntary
counselling and testing for HIV doubled.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
– prevalence of chancroid is already decreasing in
3.6.4 Surveillance and data collection
many countries, but more data and increased effort
Countries need to have at their disposal strategic informa-
are needed for the areas where the disease remains
tion obtained through an assessment of the epidemiology
of sexually transmitted infections and the response to the
– reducing genital ulcer disease prevalence involves
burden and needs. Accurate data enable strategic planning
many of the interventions that are important in HIV
and provide information for advocacy and prioritization of
interventions. As second-generation surveillance for HIV
s targeted health education and counselling to prevent
and other such infections has become increasingly fea-
further transmission of HIV and other sexually transmit-
sible, countries should put in place a surveillance system
ted infections, including:
that includes risk behaviour. Information and data should
– counselling for patients with HIV, and voluntary HIV
be collected from various population groups, including ado-
counselling and testing of patients with other
lescents in and out of school and uniformed corps, such as
sexually transmitted infections;
the military and the police force.
– linking programmes on mother-to-child transmission
of HIV with syphilis screening, and screening of other
sexually transmitted infections where feasible, in
3.6.5 An integrated approach to implementation:
shared responsibilities
order to ensure that the potential for congenital
In order to accelerate accessibility of services to the popu-
syphilis is detected and treatment is given
lation, a collaborative implementation of activities by differ-
concurrently with HIV care in order to reduce child
ent health disciplines at various levels of the health system
mortality (Millennium Development Goal 4, target 5);
is necessary. Table 4 summarizes key activities that can
s facilitating, supporting and promoting universal vaccination against hepatitis B, especially in people with
sexually transmitted infections and high-risk persons,
and development of strategies for up and coming vaccines such as those against human papillomavirus and
herpes simplex virus type 2 infections;
be undertaken collaboratively among programmes against
HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and for sexual
and reproductive health and ministries of education and
labour. At national level some health implementers can be
recruited into this collaborative approach to preventing and
controlling sexually transmitted infections, with appropriate
local adaptation. These may include women’s groups, clubs,
s building partnerships for implementing this strategy,
and implementing interventions horizontally in sexually transmitted infection/HIV, sexual and reproductive
health, and other primary health care services, including developing policy and operational frameworks for
horizontal implementation;
s seeking additional technical and financial assistance
from international and national organizations in order to
meet targets and maintain quality of care.
community associations and religious institutions.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
4.1 Advocacy
4.2 Working with the media
However good the technologies and interventions that are
Public health has become news, and the media are now
available, they are of no benefit to the population without
covering health issues and disease threats in an unprec-
the political will and resources to sustain their implementa-
edented fashion. The field of sexually transmitted infections
tion. The stigmatization associated with sexually transmit-
needs to attract more positive media coverage and more
ted infections prevents public discussion and community
proactive work needs to be done with the media. Success
involvement around the issue of their prevention and care.
stories that emphasize positive achievements are a key
Having such an infection is still considered socially unac-
component of strong communication. Partnerships with
ceptable, and there are limited patient-based constituent
key media representatives should be built in order to pro-
groups who advocate publicly or lobby for programmes
mote the goals of the global strategy, and include:
related to sexually transmitted infections. Advocacy needs
to occur at both the country and global levels to put control
of these infections high on the health agenda. Furthermore,
s building the capacity of media personnel to develop
and promulgate supportive messages;
strong leadership (with support from civil society), a clear
s improving the public’s perception of prevention, control
vision and clear messages, strategies and interventions
and care related to sexually transmitted infections;
(with a solid science base) are required to inspire action.
Advocacy will be enhanced by:
s helping to mobilize political will;
s helping to diminish stigmatization in society and
s documenting the situation strategically and packaging
the messages;
s identifying key constituencies that can influence policies and resource allocation;
s creating multidisciplinary and multisectoral coalitions
s communicating prevention messages and raising
awareness about the devastating consequences of
sexually transmitted and other reproductive tract
and networks to influence decision-makers.
At the country level, advocacy should promote enabling
4.3 Building effective partnerships
policies and legislation. Existing regulations and legislation
A broad-based approach that engages multiple partners
should be reviewed to assess their utility and contribution
and sectors should be adopted because the goals of pre-
to prevention and care policy, goals and objectives relating
vention and control of sexually transmitted infections can
to sexually transmitted infections. Consideration should be
be achieved only by joining forces. It is therefore crucial to
given to reforming policies and legislation that obstruct the
create strategic alliances and coalitions between the private
goals of prevention and care according to sound scientific
and public sectors, multilateral and bilateral aid agencies,
evidence (48).
organizations in the United Nations system, the pharmaceutical industry, the media, professional and civil society orga-
Advocacy efforts can build on the experience and lessons
nizations, and academic and other institutions. Partnerships
learnt from other successful advocacy campaigns such as
can increase the visibility, momentum and effectiveness of
those for immunization programmes, poliomyelitis eradica-
prevention and care efforts by uniting diverse elements,
tion, Stop TB, Roll Back Malaria, and tobacco control.
working synergistically and reducing unnecessary duplication of efforts.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Table 4.
A guide to collaborative implementation of interventions for prevention and control
of sexually transmitted infections
Primary, prioritized core activities
HIV/sexually transmitted infection prevention and care
Condom promotion
Positive prevention
Voluntary HIV counselling and testing
Second-generation surveillance with indicators for
sexually transmitted infections
s Monitoring and evaluation
s Operational research
s Sexual health
s Targeted interventions for HIV
s Guidelines, curriculum development and integration,
s Sexually transmitted infection
Sexually transmitted
Sexual and
reproductive health
Collaborative activities
training, quality assurance
Syndromic management in sexually transmitted
infection clinics
Partner treatment guide and plan
Condom promotion
Surveillance for sexually transmitted infections
Targeted interventions for prevention and control of
sexually transmitted infections
Monitoring and evaluation
Operational research and cycle of “plan, do, assess and
scale up”
s Antenatal syphilis prevention and care
s Condom promotion for dual protection against sexually
and sexually transmitted infection
prevention and care
s Promotion of syndromic
management of sexually transmitted
prevention among persons with HIV
s Antenatal syphilis screening
s Second-generation surveillance
s Voluntary HIV counselling and test-
ing in sexually transmitted infection
s Second-generation surveillance
transmitted infections and pregnancy
s Age-appropriate sexual health guidelines
s Treatment for sexually transmitted infections in repro-
ductive health settings
s Monitoring and evaluation
s Operational research and cycle of “plan, do, assess and
scale up”
(education and youth)
s Age-appropriate comprehensive sexual health education
(labour, tourism,
and other)
s Workplace interventions with peer education and
s School health centres, where feasible
and services, including production of information
materials in local languages
s Screening for and treatment of sexually transmitted
s Health clinics with capacity to screen
for and treat sexually transmitted
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Specific areas and issues for partners to rally around
infection control in general or for specific populations or
interventions. At the national level, wherever sector-wide
s the control of specific sexually transmitted infections
and their complications, such as the elimination of
congenital syphilis and the control and elimination of
s expanding access to, and the range of, appropriate
technologies for prevention and care, such as rapid
diagnostic tests for and vaccines against sexually
transmitted infections, and female-controlled barrier
methods, including microbicides;
s ensuring access to safe and effective, high-quality
medicines for treatment of sexually transmitted infections and other essential commodities at affordable
s complementary interventions, such as the prevention
of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis
in order to ensure that babies are born free of both
infections (31).
The development of interregional collaboration, regional
networks of expertise and experience, provision of regional
assistance and the development and strengthening of
regional “centres of excellence” are all important and
relevant strategies to strengthen national programmes.
4.4.Mobilizing financial resources
In order to implement the strategy there needs to be a
mechanism to mobilize additional resources. For developing or resource-limited countries, various sources can be
explored. For example, there are resources linked to the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; countries should take the opportunity to develop proposals for
the Global Fund that include strategies to control sexually
transmitted infections. At the global level, international
agencies should intensify discussion to facilitate provision
of funds for sexually transmitted infection control through
such mechanisms. There are also other opportunities, such
as foundations that have an interest in sexually transmitted
approaches are an approved funding mechanism, advocacy
strategies for adequate resource allocation for programming for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted
infections should be developed.
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Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
Agenda item 11.6 27
May 2006
Prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections:
draft global strategy
The Fifty-ninth World Health Assembly,
Having considered the draft global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually
transmitted infections; 6
Recalling resolution WHA46.37, which recognized the role of other sexually transmitted
diseases in the spread of HIV; resolution WHA53.14, which requested the Director-General to develop
a global health-sector strategy for responding to the epidemics of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted
infections; resolution WHA56.30, which took note of the global health sector strategy for HIV/AIDS;
and resolution WHA57.12, which endorsed the strategy to accelerate progress towards the attainment
of international development goals and targets related to reproductive health;
Recognizing and reaffirming that, at the 2005 World Summit (New York,
14-16 September 2005), world leaders committed themselves to achieving universal access to
reproductive health by 2015, as set out at the International Conference on Population and
Development (Cairo, September 1994), integrating this goal in strategies to attain the internationally
agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, aimed at
reducing maternal mortality, improving maternal health, reducing child mortality, promoting gender
equality, combating HIV/AIDS and eradicating poverty, and recognizing further that attainment of the
Millennium Development Goals require investment in, and political commitment to, sexual and
reproductive health, which includes prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections,7
1. ENDORSES the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted
Infections, recognizing that “age-appropriate” interventions are those that respond to people’s rights
and health and development needs, and provide access to sexual and reproductive health information, life-skills, education and care, and, in the case of young people, in a manner consistent with
their evolving capacities;
Document A59/11, Annex.
United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/1.
Global strategy for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections: 2006–2015
2. URGES Member States:
(1) to adopt and draw on the Strategy, as appropriate to national circumstances, in order to
ensure that national efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals includes plans and
actions, appropriate to the local epidemiological situation, for prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections, including mobilization of political will and financial resources for this
(2) to include prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections as an integral part of HIV
prevention, and of sexual and reproductive health programmes;
(3) to monitor implementation of the national plans in order to ensure that populations at
increased risk of sexually transmitted infections have access to prevention information and supplies, and to timely diagnosis and treatment;
3. REQUESTS the Director-General:
(1) to prepare an action plan, in collaboration with other organizations in the United Nations
system, that sets out priorities, actions, a time frame, and performance indicators, for
implementing the Strategy at global and regional levels, and to provide support for countrylevel implementation and monitoring of national plans for control and prevention of sexually
transmitted infections;
(2) to raise awareness, among Member States, of the importance of drawing up, promoting and
funding supportive legislation, plans and strategies for prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections;
(3) to provide support to Member States, on request, for adapting and implementing the
Strategy in ways that are appropriate to the local epidemiology of sexually transmitted
infections, and for evaluating its impact and effectiveness;
(4) to report to the Health Assembly through the Executive Board, in 2009, 2012 and 2015 on
progress in implementing the Strategy.
Ninth plenary meeting, 27 May 2006
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