Sexual health is an integral part of our overall health and well-being and can affect an individual’s physical, mental and emotional state.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), namely chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, have increased steadily over the past five years. These can be easily transmitted through unprotected intercourse or oral sex. Many people who have an STD are unaware that they have it because they have no symptoms, but they can pass it on to their sex partners. For this reason, it is important to get tested and treated for STIs to prevent them from passing on to others and potentially causing serious consequences, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
Current STIs at Simcoe Muskoka
STDs have been on the rise for more than 20 years, not only in Canada, but also within Simcoe Muskoka. The most common sexually transmitted infections are chlamydia and gonorrhea, both bacterial infections that are easily treated with antibiotics. Here are some stats worth sharing.
- Between 2000 and 2022, chlamydia cases increased four-fold, from 363 cases reported in 2000 to 1,117 in 2022. He has the highest infection rate among those aged 15 to 24, with more cases in women than in men.
- Since 2017, the number of gonorrhea cases has nearly tripled, with 279 cases reported in 2022 compared to 101 cases reported in 2017. The highest incidence is between the ages of 25 and 39 years, and the proportion of cases is higher in men compared to women. .
- The number of people infected with syphilis has increased ninefold since 2017, with 9 cases of syphilis reported in 2017 and 87 in 2022. The highest infection rates are in people aged 25-39 and 15-24. old people.
- Over the past six years, Simcoe-Muskoka has reported between 3 and 15 new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections each year. In 2022, 13 new HIV cases were reported to health departments, with the highest prevalence among people aged 25 to 39 and more men than women. There are now effective HIV treatments that can reduce the viral load in the body to undetectable levels. This prevents the sexual transmission of HIV. This is called U=U or undetectable=untransmittable.
What can be done to slow the STI storm?
Get tested if you are sexually active, especially if you have a new partner. Anyone can get an STD because these infections do not discriminate based on number of sexual partners, age, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. STI testing is straightforward, often requiring only a urine sample. Your healthcare provider may also decide to do an oral, genital, or anal swab and/or blood test. Using a barrier, such as a condom or dental dam, during penetrative or oral sex can reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections. Communicate openly with your partner and teens about sexual health, STDs, testing, and safe sex.
Where can I get tests and sexual health services?
STI testing is available through health care provider offices, walk-in clinics, community health centers, certain community agencies, and Simkow Muskoka District Health Department (SMDHU) Sexual Health Clinics. If you have an Ontario Health Card, you can get a free STD test through your health care provider.
Discuss sexually transmitted infection testing for reasons such as confidentiality concerns, feelings of shame, and fear of being seen or talked about receiving sexual health services or treatment in the community. Some may hesitate. It is important to see a doctor if you have symptoms of an STD, such as abnormal vaginal or penile discharge, discomfort when urinating, pelvic pain, bleeding between periods, rashes or ulcers in the genital area. is.
SMDHU’s sexual health clinics in Barry, Midland, Orillia, Collingwood, Cookstown, Gravenhurst and Huntsville all offer complete sexual health services, including STD testing. Testing at SMDHU is free for everyone, including those without health cards, and all services are confidential. The SMDHU Sexual Health Clinic also allows him to undergo an STI test anonymously. The health department also provides free STD treatment for people who test positive for bacterial STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Local health care providers and walk-in clinics can also address concerns about sexually transmitted infections and offer testing. Customers in need of treatment can also order free STD medicine from SMDHU.
How do I book an STI test appointment with SMDHU?
You can also make an appointment for a sexual health clinic yourself at smdhu.inputhealth.com or call Health Connection 705-721-7520 or toll-free at 1-877-721-7520 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. You can also call , make a reservation. All of our sexual health services are confidential, nonjudgmental, LGBTQ2+ friendly, and have nurses who are easy to talk to.
Dr. Colin Lee is an associate medical officer for health at the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Department. For more information on sexual health and other public health topics, visit smdhu.org.