Sexually transmitted infections on the rise in Gauteng – here are the areas seeing increases
Thousands of males and females at Gauteng healthcare centers were found to have contracted infections.
The Gauteng Department of Health has raised the alarm about increasing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the province.
According to the department, of the 167,109 males who went to its hospitals and clinics between April and December, 67,400 of them were treated for Male Urethritis Syndrome (MUS), a sexually transmitted infection.
“The MUS data accurately reflects newly acquired STIs. Symptoms of MUS include discharge from the penis and burning urination.
“If left untreated complications can include pain and swelling of the testes.
“Gonorrhoea and chlamydia are the most predominant cause of MUS in South Africa,” the health department said on Sunday.
In 2020, MUS infections were at 12% and have since increased over the years to 15% in 2023.
The following are areas where rising infections were recorded:-
- Alexandra and Sandton
- Joburg inner city, Braamfontein and Hillbrow
- Merafong in the West Rand, Ekurhuleni South (Germiston, Katlehong and Vooslorus)
- Lesedi in Sedibeng region.
- Bronkhorstspruit in Tshwane
Sandton, Alexandra and the other Joburg areas have high-risk individuals such as sex workers and drug users, said the department.
“Merafong is a mining area with a majority of the male population, Bronkhorstspruit has farming areas where cultural norms hinder uptake of services, especially amongst men.
“Ekurhuleni South and Lesedi have TVET colleges, informal settlements, truck stops and hostels.”
Infections in women
There is also a noticeable increase in women treated with Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).
PrEP is an antiretroviral drug prescribed for HIV-negative people to prevent HIV infection.
Between April and November 2023, 38,305 females aged 15 to 49 were placed on PrEP in comparison to 11,988 males.
Furthermore, between April and December, 1, 255 out of 66, 377 pregnant women who visited public health centres for antenatal care for the first time tested positive for Syphilis.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria and can cause serious health problems for the mother and the baby.
Both male and female condoms are freely available at public hospitals and clinics.
“We identified behavioural factors that contributed to the high MUS, including high rates of unsafe behaviour.
“Others are multiple sexual partners, inconsistent condom use, high levels of substance use and cultural norms.
“We should not allow STIs to go untreated as they increase the risk of HIV infection and transmission.
“This will hamper the province’s goal to reduce new HIV infections by 2030,” she said.