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Public health Sexually transmitted infections on the rise

The Federal Office of Health's latest campaign on STIs was launched in November 2016

(Keystone)

Gonorrhea, syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are becoming increasingly common in Switzerland, contrary to the government’s goal of reducing by half the number of these types of cases by 2017.

Partly that is due to better testing and awareness that results in more people reporting such cases, officials said on Friday.

The number of gonorrhea cases reached almost 2,500 in 2016, up by 25% from a year earlier, according to the Federal Office of Healthexternal link. Syphilis cases rose 1,176 in 2016, up by 11.5% over 2015. Cases of chlamydia, one of the most frequent STIs in Switzerland and Europe, rose to more than 11,000, up by 8.5%.

The government vowed in 2011 that it would halve the number of STI cases by 2017.

HIV

The situation did not change much for people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, with 556 new cases reported in 2016, compared with 552 a year earlier.

Those diagnosed with HIV typically run up health insurance costs of CHF1 million ($1 million) over a lifetime, Swiss health authorities say.

The health office said that the rise in the number of cases involving STIs is in part due to better quality tests and awareness campaigns among doctors.

Since 2011, the government’s Love Life campaign has been targeting the public with its messages about safer sex and awareness of the symptoms of STIs.

The Love Life campaign continued this yearexternal link, supported with around CHF2 million annually in funding.

However, its sometimes-explicit posters have caused controversy. In June 2016, the Federal Court said it would rule on a Christian group’s appeal claiming the government’s 2014 campaign went too far.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/ilj

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