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Urgency in addressing the escalating STI Rates in Gauteng

As Valentine’s Day approaches, Gauteng Health issues a crucial advisory, urging the public to steer clear of risky sexual behaviors amidst a concerning surge in Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). The department reveals alarming statistics, emphasizing the need for increased awareness and responsible sexual health practices.

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The Escalating STI Incidence:

Between April and December
2023, a staggering 167,109 males sought treatment at public health facilities in Gauteng. Notably, 40% of them, amounting to 67,400 individuals, received treatment for Male Urethritis Syndrome (MUS), a condition closely associated with newly acquired STIs.

Understanding MUS:

Male Urethritis Syndrome manifests through symptoms like penile discharge and painful urination. If left untreated, complications such as testicular pain and swelling may arise. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are identified as the leading causes of MUS in South Africa.



The incidence of MUS in the province has risen from 12% in 2020 to 15% in 2023. Particularly noteworthy is the increase in sub-districts E (Alex/Sandton) and F (Inner City/Braamfontein/Hillbrow) in Johannesburg, Merafong in West Rand, Katlehong and Ekurhuleni South (Germiston, Katlehong, and
Vooslorus), Lesedi in Sedibeng, and Region 7 (Bronkhorstspruit) in Tshwane.

Government Response:

The Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) has implemented various prevention strategies in these areas. These include advocating for consistent condom use, promoting HIV counseling and testing, conducting STI screenings, and providing sexual health education.

Risk Factors and High-Risk Populations:

Several behavioral factors contribute to the high incidence,including inconsistent condom use, multiple sexual partners, substance abuse, and cultural norms. Sub-districts E and F house tertiary institutions and high-risk populations, while Merafong is a predominantly male-inhabited mining area. Region 7 faces challenges due to farming communities with cultural barriers, and Ekurhuleni South and Lesedi house Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, informal settlements, truck stops, and hostels.

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Call to Action:

MEC for Health and Wellness,
Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, issues
a fervent call to sexually active
individuals to utilize free condoms
available at local healthcare
centers. This is a crucial step in
protecting against STIs and HIV.

Addressing Pregnant Women’s Health:

Emphasizing the importance of early antenatal care, MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko underscores the need to screen pregnant women for STIs. Between April and December 2023, 1,255 out of 66,377 pregnant women tested positive
for Syphilis, emphasizing the critical role of timely treatment for both mother and baby.


Promoting PrEP and Safe Practices:

While there’s been a notable increase in women initiating Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection, there’s a pressing need to promote PrEP among men and encourage consistent condom use to reduce STI incidence.


February not only marks Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Month but also
coincides with STI/Condom Week (6-10 February). This convergence highlights the
imperative of adopting safe sexual practices and the urgent need for collective efforts to curb the rising tide of STIs in Gauteng

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