National Immunization Awareness Week: Working toward an STI Vaccine

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By Laurie Smith

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are a significant cause of morbidity, mortality, and health system burden globally, with over half a billion STIs occur annually. STI infections can cause fetal & neonatal death through perinatal transmission (syphilis), various types of cancer (HPV), infertility (gonorrhea & chlamydia), physical & psychosocial distress, and can increase HIV risk. In BC, STIs rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been steadily increasing in recent decades.

In June 2016, the World Health Organization highlighted opportunities for innovation, such as STI vaccines, as a priority focus through their Global Health Sector Strategy on STIs, and this strategy sets ambitious targets which include significant reductions in various STIs around the world. BC is a global leader in HPV vaccine research and evaluation and policy planning and implementation. Researchers in BC now have a unique opportunity to leverage the HPV vaccine experience and apply it to other STI vaccines.

A consortium of STI and vaccine experts in BC are collaborating to become global leaders in STI vaccine research and planning. This group, which includes WHRI researchers, will be instrumental in contributing to the emerging field of STI vaccine development in the years to come.