The use of a condom is essential to protect yourself and your partners against STDs. It is recommended that women aged between 25 and 64 have HPV screening and that young girls aged from 12 to 14 years old (up to 18 years old) are vaccinated against HPV.
What does Sciensano do?
Sciensano compiles 2 reports each year documenting the evolution of STDs in Belgium.
The reports are based on information provided by data-collection networks:
- the sentinel network of microbiological laboratories managed by Sciensano
- the sentinel network of clinicians managed by Sciensano
- the National Reference Centre for STDs hosted by the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp.
The reports are made public and transmitted to the authorities that can re-evaluate the policy for controlling and preventing STDs.
Sentinel network of clinicians
Since 2000, the sentinel network of clinicians run by the “Epidemiology of infectious diseases” unit describes the characteristics of people suffering from an STD (including HPV infection) and the factors that increase the risk of transmitting an STD.
The participating doctors are gynaecologists, dermatologists, general practitioners, internists, urologists; and in addition family planning centres, sexual health clinics and student medical centres. Participation is on a voluntary basis.
Since 2013, general practitioners' surgeries (sentinel network of general practitioners) have been integrated into the sentinel network of clinicians. They record any new episodes of Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and condyloma (HPV).
National Reference Centre for STDs
It analyses the genetic type (serotyping) of strains of bacteria in circulation and determines which ones are no longer circulating. This enables it to predict potential epidemics.