To describe changes in sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain.
Material and methods
We collected demographic, chronological, and clinical data for all patients seen for a possible STI at Hospital La Paz, Centro Sanitario Sandaval, and Centro de Diagnóstico Médico in Madrid and Hospital Costa del Sol in Malaga between March 14, 2020 and June 30, 2020.
We identified 674 STI diagnoses. The median age of the patients was 33 years. Most cases were observed among people aged 30 to 40 years and among men who have sex with men. The most common diagnoses were proctitis (36.5%), syphilis (16%), nongonococcal (13.3%) and gonococcal (11.3%) urethritis, genital herpes (8.8%), vulvovaginitis/cervicitis (8.3%), and genital warts (4.2%). A microbiologically confirmed diagnosis was on record for 77% of cases. The main microorganisms identified were Chlamydia trachomatis (35.7%), Neisseria gonorrhoeae (31.4%), and Treponema pallidum (17.2%). The number of STI diagnoses increased after the easing of lockdown restrictions, which resulted in greater freedom of movement and more consultations. On comparing the 2019 and 2020 STI registries from Centro Sanitario Sandoval and Hospital La Paz for the period March to June, we observed reductions (of up to 81%) in all STI diagnoses.
Physical distancing and movement restrictions appear to have resulted in a reduction in the incidence of STIs, although these measures did not completely eliminate sexual risk behaviors.