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Increase STI rates due to lack of condom use: NWHU

By Adam Riley Dec 21, 2023 | 5:18 PM

Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition / Unsplash

A lack of condom use in the Northwestern Health Unit’s catchment area has prompted the organization to ramp up discussion on sexual health and the issues of sexually transmitted infections.

Rates of chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV are consistently double that of the provincial average and just aren’t going down, according to Manager of Harm Reduction and Sexual Health Donna Stanley.

The NWHU notes while those aged 15-34 and their partners are more likely to be exposed, cases are also being found in other age groups as well.

Data gathered and presented by the organization shows three key risk factors for being infected:

  • No condom use
  • More than one sexual partner in the last six months
  • Impaired judgement due to alcohol or drug use

To address the issue an Stanley says sometimes its just a matter of increasing awareness and the understanding of condom usage. She believes younger residents have been isolated over the past couple of years and at this stage of life, might not have that much experience.

“You what a condom is, you know what a condom does, but have you handled one, have you talked about it, practiced talking to people you know, how would you approach a conversation.”

In an attempt to try and reduce numbers a campaign targeted at several at risk demographics will be launching in the new year which will include working with area physicians and other health organizations.

In addition to the common irritations and risks these bacterial and viral infections carry, some come with added ramifications according to Stanley.

“There’s significant health risks and you know syphilis can result in birth defects so we don’t want to see those infections impacting young people.”

Residents who have unprotected sex is being advised by the NWHU to get tested. It, along with other healthcare providers are able to provide testing for STI’s and officials say early testing allows for faster treatment to reduce further risks and spread.

As well some infections can be transmitted via injection drug use, the result of sharing supplies, which promotes the spread of blood-borne diseases. To provide preventative support the health unit offers free injection drug supplies for those who require them.