At the national and international levels, this indicator is useful as a proxy of the burden of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the general population, and also as a marker of progress towards reducing the burden of STI. The group selected, i.e. 15-24 year olds, consists mainly of those individuals just beginning sexual activity. As a result, infections in this group represent incident (new) sexually transmitted infections (STI).
Nevertheless, its use as a proxy indicator may be limited where a targeted campaign specifically against syphilis has been carried out (but still could be used as an impact indicator for the target population) or where the prevalence of syphilis is low (in low-prevalence countries it may be useful as an early indicator of the spread of HIV infection, as well as a biological marker for high-risk sexual practices).
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