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

Port Clements gets cell service

Telus built a $500,000 wireless communication site for the remote Haida Gwaii village

Identifying child care space needs on the island

B.C. government is providing a $25,000 grant for more than 70 communities to help improve daycare

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Sk’aadgaa Naay slips in Fraser Institute elementary school rankings

The school stayed at a rating of 5, but slipped to 694th rank in 2017/18

B.C. First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients to drop by 31 per cent: study

Professors project the nutrient decrease by 2050 if climate change mitigation continues as is

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Story of Wet’suwet’en Chief Alfred Joseph being told

Song of the Earth on Chief Gisday’wa will be launched in Hagwilget

Houston woman gets two years for aggravated assault

Ewald pleads guilty; trial of co-accused Calvin Dyrland begins in Smithers B.C. court

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

Most Read