VIDEO: Sexually transmitted infections up, HIV down in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control points to less frequent condom use

Rates of sexually transmitted infections are on the rise in B.C., with public health experts pointing to fewer people using condoms as the cause.

Dr. Jason Wong, a physician epidemiologist at the BC Centre for Disease Control, said rates of bacterial STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, have been climbing for two decades both within the province and across the country.

B.C. recorded 15,700 cases of chlamydia, 3,300 cases of gonorrhea and 683 cases of syphilis last year.

Canada recorded 116,500 cases of chlamydia – the most commonly reported STI in the country – in 2015, the latest year in which data were available, along with 19,845 cases of gonorrhea and about 3,300 cases of syphilis, which has seen the biggest jump since 2010 at 86 per cent.

Rates of HIV, meanwhile, have been been in decline. “In B.C., there were 190 HIV cases in 2017,” Wong said. That’s compared to 254 reported cases in 2016.

READ MORE: UVic microbiologist patents potential syphilis vaccine

READ MORE: B.C. gets serious about syphilis outbreak, with humour

Why sexually transmitted infections are still plaguing so many Canadians is “definitely the million-dollar question.”

The most probable reason, Wong said, is because of improvements in treatment and care for people with HIV.

“People have become less and less concerned with contracting HIV, and so what this potentially may lead to is reductions in condom use.”

Some researchers have suggested dating apps such as Tinder or Grindr could play a role in the uptick in STIs, because of more sexual interactions altogether.

Wong shot down that theory: “The technology has just changed the way people have tried to find partners, but I think if we compare this to going to the bar or the club, or meeting through friends, I don’t think it’s fundamentally any different – just a different interface.”

Other factors contributing to the increase can actually be positive, such as advancements in detection methods – often a partial cause in long-term trends for diseases and infections.

STI screenings have become less invasive and more sensitive, Wong said, allowing for an earlier confirmation for infections that have otherwise no symptoms.

“For women now, urine tests are equivalent to a cervical swab,” he said, adding detection has gotten better specifically for gonorrhea and chlamydia.

READ MORE: Find your nearest clinic and get tested

While bacterial STIs can be cured with antibiotics, infections can turn serious when untreated, including damage to the brain and cardiovascular system, as well as impact on fertility in woman. In some cases, it can be fatal.

Wong said condoms are one of the simplest and most widely encouraged measures to protect yourself, as well as undergoing regular screenings to ensure quick treatment.

“Ensuring your health is at its best and you’re not likely to transmit to other people is also an important strategy.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Huge demand for youth funding in the Elk Valley

Emily Brydon Youth Foundation overwhelmed by 2018/19 winter applications from local youth

Fernie sports store kicking goals

GearHub turns focus to online market after opening second location in Fernie

City of Fernie pitches $80m multi-purpose community centre

Council opts for bigger design and two grant funding streams after hour-long debate

Fernie hosts Kootenay Cup cross country skiing races

Race series draws skiers from across East Kootenay and as far as Scotland to Fernie

Sparwood liveability study to start this month

Study to inform Elkview coal mine expansion, District of Sparwood planning

Giant rotating ice disk forms in Maine river

Ice disk that is roughly 100 yards wide has formed in the Presumpscot River

Pregnant B.C. firefighter tries to save own house that caught fire

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

First Nation supporters march to Horgan’s MLA office

Dozens marched across the Greater Victoria community of Langford to support the Wet’suwet’en people

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

SUV wedged on top of car in B.C. mall parking lot has customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

SPCA seeks help for Shelby the dog

Cranbrook branch seeks help with costs for a Shih Tzu suffering from a number of medical issues.

SPCA seeks help for Shelby the dog

Cranbrook branch seeks help with costs for a Shih Tzu suffering from a number of medical issues.

Most Read