Recent changes in the reporting of STIs in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sex Transm Infect. 2023 Mar;99(2):124-127. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2021-055378. Epub 2022 Apr 22.


Objectives: The COVID-19 pandemic has had variable effects on the rates of STIs reported across the globe. This study sought to assess how the number of STI reports changed during the pandemic in Japan.

Methods: We used national infectious disease surveillance data from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (Tokyo, Japan) for the period between January 2013 and December 2021. We compared reported rates of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, condyloma acuminata and genital herpes, as well as total notifications for HIV/AIDS and syphilis during the pandemic versus previous years in Japan. We used a quasi-Poisson regression to determine whether any given week or month between January 2018 and December 2021 had a significant excess or deficit of STIs. Notification values above or below the 95% upper and lower prediction thresholds were considered as statistically significant. The start of the pandemic was defined as January 2020.

Results: Chlamydia generally remained within predicted range during the pandemic period. Reporting of gonorrhoea was significantly higher than expected throughout early-to-mid 2021 but otherwise generally remained within predicted range prior to 2021. Condyloma, herpes and HIV/AIDS reporting were transiently significantly lower than expected throughout the pandemic period, but no significant periods of higher-than-expected reporting were detected. Syphilis showed widespread evidence of significantly lower-than-predicted reporting throughout 2020 but eventually reversed, showing significantly higher-than-predicted reporting in mid-to-late 2021.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with variable changes in the reporting of STIs in Japan. Higher-than-predicted reporting was more likely to be observed in the later phases of the pandemic. These changes may have been attributable to pandemic-related changes in sexual behaviour and decreased STI clinic attendance and testing, but further research on the long-term impact of the pandemic on STIs is necessary.

Keywords: COVID-19; Chlamydia Infections; Gonorrhea; HIV; SYPHILIS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia Infections* / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia*
  • Condylomata Acuminata* / epidemiology
  • Gonorrhea* / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Syphilis* / epidemiology