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

PHOTOS: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Pacific Insight to lay off part of workforce

The company says it is transferring automotive production to its Mexico facility

Black belt tests on this week at Kootenay Martial Arts

Grandmaster Brenda Sell returns to assist in testing

UPDATED: Four Nelson marijuana dispensaries to remain open after legalization

Nelson’s police chief has no plans to close them down

Nelson candidates debate climate change at forum

Mayoral and council candidates had the chance to speak on five fictional resolutions

VIDEO: Candidates at Nelson election forum

Mayoral candidates joined 18 council candidates for an evening of very short answers

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Baby boomer buba shares heartfelt novel with Okanagan audience

Pauline Daniel will be at Vernon’s Bookland and library Oct. 20

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Most Read