Every day, more than a million people contract an STI. In 2020, the WHO estimated that 374 million people had contracted one of the following four STIs: chlamydiosis (129 million), gonorrhoea (82 million), syphilis (7.1 million), and trichomoniasis (156 million). 

STIs have been on the rise in France since the early 2000s, and their surveillance is an essential part of preventing these diseases. The Covid-19  crisis had seriously reduced the use of testing, but the data for 2021 is more reassuring. It seems to indicate that this drop only accounts for bacterial STIs, unlike HIV.

Because it’s World AIDS Day, we wanted to dedicate an article to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.



STIs are caused by infectious agents. These can be viruses, bacteria, or parasites. In this sense, we can classify them into 3 main categories.

Bacterial Sexually Transmitted Infections 

· Syphilis: In France, the number of syphilis diagnoses in CeGIDD (free STI information, screening, and diagnosis center) has been relatively stable since 2016. In 2021, 3300 cases of syphilis were diagnosed. Syphilis affects the vast majority of men who have sex with men: 78% of cases diagnosed in 2021 in CeGIDD. If left untreated early, this disease becomes chronic and the risk of transmission increases.

· Gonorrhoea (or gonococcus): Gonorrhoea, also known as the clap, mostly affects people under the age of 30, especially men. An upsurge in gonorrhoea cases has been observed in recent years in France (between 15,000 and 20,000 new cases each year, more than half of which are in men under 30 years of age). If left undiagnosed and untreated, this infection can lead to infertility.

· Chlamydia: Chlamydia infections are very common in young people between the ages of 15 and 25 and affect both men and women. They are one of the leading causes of infertility in women. In France, it is estimated that nearly 4% of girls under the age of 25 are infected with chlamydia, and this figure is estimated to be between 10% and 15% in the Paris region.

Sexually transmitted parasitic infections

· Trichonomasis: Trichonomasis is the most common sexually transmitted infection and young adults are particularly at risk. In 2020, the WHO estimated that 156 million people worldwide had contracted it. Trichonomasis accounts for 40% of STIs contracted worldwide every day.

Other Viral Diseases

· Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by a virus that is mainly transmitted through sex or contact with infected blood. This infection is mild in most cases. But in about 10% of infected people, hepatitis B becomes a chronic infection that can cause serious disorders, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. In France, it is estimated that 280,000 to 300,000 French people have chronic hepatitis B, but nearly half of them are unaware of it.

· Genital herpes: Genital herpes is a highly contagious and sexually transmitted viral disease. After the primary infection, the virus settles in the body and "falls asleep". It then manifests itself, during flare-ups, by small blisters that develop into sores, located on or near the sexual organs. Globally, it is the fourth most commonly transmitted infection. In France, the most recent studies show that genital herpes affects about 17% of the population. The latter also show that women are more affected than men.

· HIV: The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that attacks the body's immune system: HIV destroys these cells, weakening the effectiveness of the infected person's immune system against infections such as tuberculosis and certain cancers. In France, the number of HIV positive discoveries in 2021 was estimated at 5013, a stable number compared to 2020. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.

· Human papillomavirus (HPV): Human papillomaviruses are highly contagious: 70% to 80% of men and women will encounter at least one papillomavirus in their lifetime. In 90% of cases, the virus is eliminated by our immune system within 2 years of infection, while in the remaining 10% of cases, the infection persists and can have serious consequences, such as a possible progression to a precancerous lesion and, within 10 to 30 years, to cancer. Genital warts (or condylomas) are benign lesions that are highly contagious and annoying and can appear as a result of a papillomavirus infection. 100,000 new cases per year of genital warts are counted in France in men and women. In France, nearly 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year, and about 1,000 women die from it. A total of 6,400 cancers are linked to HPV viruses each year, one in four of which are in men.


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections that are transmitted through sexual intercourse, with or without penetration. Some of them can also be transmitted through sexual fondling, through the exchange of sexual fluids, or through direct contact with infected lesions or mucous membranes. Infections can also be transmitted during oral sex, fellatio, or cunnilingus.

What is most dangerous about STIs is that they are most often asymptomatic; when you get an STI, you don't feel "sick". However, being asymptomatic does not mean that you are not a carrier of an STI. So, you can be contagious without realizing it, and transmit the virus to other people. 

When symptoms appear a few weeks after infection, they may be different between men and women. In women, they result in yellowish or bloody vaginal discharge, stomach aches, inflammation of the cervix, burning when urinating, or pain during penetration. In men, symptoms of an STI can include urethral discharge, genital ulcers, painful urination, and abdominal pain.



The good news is that most sexually transmitted infections can be cured, but they must be diagnosed in time, before they develop into viral diseases for some. That's why prevention is key. Here are 5 solutions to prevent STIs.

1. Wear a condom

Wearing a condom remains the most effective solution for preventing STI transmission. In internal penetration, as for oral practices (fellatio and cunnilingus), condoms are mandatory to protect against sexually transmitted infections if you are not sure whether or not your partner is carrying an STI. 

Since January 1st, 2023, "Eden" and "Get Out Covered!" condoms can be 100% covered by the Health Insurance, without a medical prescription if you are under 26 years old, or 60% with a medical prescription if you are 26 years old or older.

Accompanied by a lubricant, the condom will further ensure its protective role. That's right, intimate lubricants help to avoid unpleasant surprises, such as a condom that tears, and also guarantees comfort in your romantic relationships.

2. Don't forget to get screened

Screenings are done on a regular basis, or according to risk-taking. Where and how to get tested? They can be carried out in different places: in a laboratory with a prescription issued by your GP, in a CeGIDD (free STI information, screening, and diagnosis centre), or in a planning centre for the youngest.

3. PReP treatment for at-risk individuals

PReP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is an HIV prevention strategy. It consists of taking an antiretroviral drug continuously or intermittently to avoid being infected with HIV. This treatment is only reserved for HIV-negative people over the age of 18 who have a risky lifestyle. This mainly concerns men who have sex with men, transgender people, intravenous drug users with needle sharing, sex workers exposed to unprotected sex, people from high-prevalence regions (sub-Saharan Africa, India, Guyana, etc.), and people with multiple partners.

4. Vaccination

Vaccination is possible for some STIs, such as hepatitis B and human papillomavirus. Vaccination against hepatitis B is mandatory in France for all infants born from January 1, 2018, and recommended for children and adolescents up to the age of 15: vaccinating them when they are small is to protect them for later when they encounter the virus. Vaccination against HPV viruses is recommended for girls and boys from 11 years of age.

5. Don't hesitate to consult

If you have any symptoms or doubts, do not hesitate to consult your doctor. It is essential to understand what is going on in your body to heal yourself as quickly as possible and not transmit the infection. In most cases, STIs can be cured in as little as 2 days.


- Every day around the world, more than one million people contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI), the majority of which are asymptomatic.

- It is estimated that 374 million people contract one of the following four curable STIs each year: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis or trichomoniasis.
- It is estimated that more than 500 million people (15 to 49 years old) have a genital infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes).

- Human papillomavirus infection is associated with more that 311,000 dealths from cervical cancer each year.

- It is estimated that nearly one million pregnant women were infected with syphilis in 2016, resulting in more that 350,000 adverse outcomes during childbirth.

Because intimate sex should be a moment of pleasure and the health of both partners is essential, STI prevention remains the most effective solution to combat the transmission of these infections. You can never be too careful: protecting yourself is essential!

To find out more about STIs, you will find information on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and sexuality in general, in different structures, including:

  •             R CentersRegional AIDS Information and Prevention Offices (CRIPS),
  •             Youth Information Offices (BIJ),
  •             The Espaces SantYouth.