In 2012, more people were tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the STI clinics than in previous years, and more people were diagnosed with an STI. The percentage of people with a chlamydia or gonorrhea infection showed an especially marked increase. This trend is visible at the STI clinics as well as in general practices. Effective STI monitoring remains essential for the identification of relevant trends and of emerging STIs in high-risk groups.
STI clinics offer high-risk groups a low-threshold opportunity to test for STI and offer treatment when an STI is diagnosed. The attendees at the STI clinics in 2012 consisted mainly of people below the age of 25 years, people from areas in which STI/HIV is common and men who have sex with men (MSM). The number of consultations increased by 7 per cent compared with 2011.
Chlamydia remained the most diagnosed STI in 2012, with a slight increase in the percentage of people with this infection compared with 2011 (12.2 per cent versus 11.5 per cent). Chlamydia was primarily diagnosed in heterosexuals, both men and women, below the age of 25 years. In 2012, a remarkable increase in the number of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) infections, an aggressive variant of chlamydia, was observed. Currently, LGV is mostly diagnosed in MSM with an HIV infection. LGV causes an infection of the lymphenodes, which prolongs the treatment.
In 2012, the percentage of people with a gonorrhoea infection also increased in comparison with 2011 (3.6 per cent versus 3.2 per cent). Gonorrhoea was mostly diagnosed in MSM. It remains important to monitor the resistance of the gonorrhea bacteria against the antibiotic currently recommended in the Netherlands, a third-generation cephalosporine. In several European countries rising rates of resistance to this antibiotic are being observed.
In 2012, the number of people with an HIV infection diagnosed in the STI clinics decreased slightly compared with 2011 (358 versus 415). At the HIV treatment centres, the number of HIV-infected patients entering care has been more or less stable in recent years. However, more newly diagnosed people of 50 years of age or older have been registered in the past few years.