Many countries still use this term for sexually transmitted infections (STI). It is an antiquated term used in an era before penicillin when syphilis was the major global burden. These common infections still have the capacity to cause major life threatening epidemics such as HIV/ AIDs.
Warning The WHO estimated that 340 million new cases of the four main curable STIs, namely gonorrhoea, chlamydial infection, syphilis and trichomonas, occur every year, 75-85% of them in developing countries.
Added to this, management requires skills in diagnosis, education of the young, essential drug delivery, control of prostitution and tracing of contacts.
Teaching the use of protective devises such as the condom does not have the support of a major global religion and early management of infection is not everywhere affordable.
The antibiotics available for some infections, such as gonorrhoea, are limited by increasing resistance. Furthermore, the side effects of some regimens such as Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis are life threatening and difficult to manage.
Action ‘…because of the increased burden of skin disease due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic we must redouble our efforts to provide dermatology education to care providers. A review of the burden of skin disease in Africa, how it relates to HIV/AIDS and global infectious disease, current educational strategies in Africa to address this need, suggests potential solutions to move these efforts forward.’ HU et al (2011) Dermatology and HIV/AIDS in Africa, Journal of Global Infectious Diseases 3 275-280.
We must act on this advice now lest we see a loss in the momentum already built with the major contribution of diagnostic skill from the dermatology profession.