Trichomoniasis, caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) worldwide. In comparison to chlamydia and other STIs with prevalence rates highest in women ages 15-25 years, trichomoniasis infections appear to peak substantially later in life (between 40-50 years of age). The infection is asymptomatic in at least 50% of women and 70-80% of men. Symptomatic trichomoniasis presents with vaginal or urethral discharge, pelvic pain, dysuria (painful urination), and itching of the genitals. Trichomoniasis infection in pregnant women can cause adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly premature rupture of membranes, pre-term delivery and low birth weight. Although men are carriers of the parasite, they rarely develop symptoms of infection, but urethritis can occur. Screening for other sexually transmitted diseases in patients with trichomoniasis is advisable wherever resources permit. Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics. Infections in neonates usually resolve spontaneously within a few weeks.

Key facts

  • Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI worldwide, with 142 million new cases in 2012, compared to chlamydia (131 million), gonorrhea (78 million), and syphilis (6 million)
  • In 2012, there were 13.8 million new cases of trichomoniasis among females, and 13.6 million new cases among men in the Region of the Americas
  • In 2012, there were 18.8 million existing cases of trichomoniasis among females, and 3.2 million existing cases among men in the Region of the Americas
  • Non-ulcerative STIs, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis, have been shown to increase STI transmission, including HIV transmission and acquisition

PAHO/WHO response

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