Recent insights suggest the need for the STI field to embrace a more eco-social conceptual framework: a viewpoint

Chris Kenyon, Thibaut Vanbaelen, Christophe Van Dijck

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


A large number of countries are being confronted with twin epidemics of increasing STI incidence and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This has led to calls to intensify STI screening of high STI prevalence populations. The available evidence suggests that this will have little impact on STI prevalence but a significant deleterious effect on AMR. We suggest that this call to intensify STI screening is one of the several errors that stem from the way that the STI-field has been dominated by a biomedical individualistic conceptual framework. This framework views STIs as obligate pathogens that can and should be eradicated by intensive seek-and-destroy activities. We evaluate five types of evidence that suggest that a multi-level, socio-ecological framework would provide a more accurate portrayal of the important determinants of STI prevalence and AMR spread. By incorporating concepts such as limiting STI screening to scenarios with clear evidence of net-benefit and considering 'antimicrobial footprint' thresholds, this framework would be more likely to result in a better balance between targeting STI prevalence whilst minimizing the risk of AMR emerging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9564624211064133
JournalInternational Journal of STD & AIDS
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)404-415
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/therapeutic use
  • Gonorrhea/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Prevalence
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases/diagnosis


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