The Epidemic of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Under the Influence of COVID-19 in China.
Background: Prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are major public health priorities in China, but are influenced by the COVID-19 epidemic. In this study, we aimed to quantitatively explore the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic and its control measures on five major STD epidemics in China.
Methods: A monthly number of newly reported cases of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, gonorrhea, and syphilis from January 2010 to December 2020 were extracted to establish autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models. Each month's absolute percentage error (APE) between the actual value and model-predicted value of each STD in 2020 was calculated to evaluate the influence of the COVID-19 epidemic on the STDs. Pearson correlation analysis was conducted to explore the confirmed COVID-19 case numbers and the COVID-19 control measures' correlations with the case numbers and the APEs of five STDs in 2020.
Results: The actual number of five STDs in China was more than 50% lower than the predicted number in the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic, especially in February. Among them, the actual number of cases of hepatitis C, gonorrhea, and syphilis in February 2020 was more than 100% lower than the predicted number (APE was -102.3, -109.0, and -100.4%, respectively). After the sharply declines of STDs' reported cases in early 2020, the case numbers recovered quickly after March. The epidemic of STDs was negatively associated with the COVID-19 epidemic and its control measures, especially for restrictions on gathering size, close public transport, and stay-at-home requirements (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: COVID-19 had a significant but temporary influence on the STD epidemic in China. The effective control of COVID-19 is vital for STD prevention. STD services need to be improved to prevent STDs from becoming a secluded corner in the shadow of COVID-19.