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Reviewed 03 Aug 2007
  EpidemiologyThis page summarises the role and activities of the epidemiology section of the ESSTI network.

Europe-wide collaboration on STI surveillance:


  • Enables comparison of prevalence and trends in disease rates
  • Helps to improve the design and implementation of STI prevention and control interventions
  • Allows countries to identify and adopt the best approaches operating in the field.

During the first phase of ESSTI (2001-2004) a cross-sectional survey of STI surveillance, care and prevention systems in Europe was carried out (see STI surveillance survey for more detail). The results were published in a peer-reviewed journal (see our publications) and demonstrated the feasibility and acceptability of undertaking a prospective collection of STI surveillance data.  The main objective of the ESSTI Surveillance project for 2006-2008 is the collation, validation, analysis and dissemination of STI surveillance data from participating countries.  Retrospective annual data on gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia infections have been requested from all member states for the period 1990-2005. This data collection is currently ongoing. The ESSTI surveillance project is a collaboration between ESSTI, ECDC and WHO-Euro.



The objectives of this section of the network are to:

  • Collate EU STI surveillance data prospectively
  • Review current EU STI surveillance and prevention policies and practice
  • Collate information about STI outbreaks in Europe, including investigation and response
  • Facilitate sharing of information on STI epidemics and prevention and control in the EU.

STI surveillance survey

Between December 2002 and June 2003, ESSTI carried out a cross-sectional survey of STI surveillance leads in 15 European countries using a semi-structured questionnaire. This exercise has now been repeated in the new member states.

The survey aimed to provide the context for understanding national disease trends and the relationship between STI surveillance and public health intervention programmes.


The survey looked at national STI surveillance, care and prevention systems in Europe, and compared:

  • their main structural characteristics
  • the factors affecting their performance
  • their heterogeneity and similarities
  • their priorities for improvement.

It also assessed the feasibility of:

  • carrying out a retrospective comparative analysis of acute STI trends in Europe for the last decade
  • establishing STI surveillance networks which produce comparable data across Europe
  • defining minimum standards for STI surveillance across the EU.

Data were collected on current practices and policies for STI surveillance; STI treatment and care structures; screening and partner notification policies; and national strategies and prevention programmes. Key documents and resources from all countries were also analysed. Completed questionnaires were summarised in a standard format and validated by each country’s surveillance lead.

The results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
See our publications



The survey is the most recent in-depth assessment and description of EU STI surveillance systems. It confirmed the heterogeneity of EU STI surveillance systems, reflecting different healthcare systems, resources and needs. It identified common priorities for improving surveillance systems. While direct comparisons of surveillance data across EU countries are difficult, they may be overcome by examining trends over time and by comparing data obtained from similar surveillance systems.

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