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article imageCOVID-19 negatively influencing sexually transmitted diseases

By Karen Graham     May 26, 2020 in Health
Canada’s health care providers are warning that coronavirus shutdowns are negatively influencing another outbreak: sexually transmitted infections.
In August 2019, according to CBC Canada, the federal government was reporting that "rates of sexually transmitted infections in Canada have increased over the last decade — chlamydia increased by 49 percent, gonorrhea by 81 percent, and syphilis by an alarming 178 percent."
South of the border, in the United States, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)show Chlamydia infections rose 19 percent - with 1.8 million cases, Gonorrhea at 583,405 cases; an increase of 63 percent increase since 2014; Primary and Secondary Syphilis with 35,063 cases; a 71 percent increase since 2014; and Congenital Syphilis, with 1,306 cases; a 185 percent increase since 2014.
While both countries were addressing the STD outbreaks through contact-tracing, education and clinics, along came the coronavirus pandemic and "shelter-in-place" directives. Overall, the pandemic cut access to prevention, testing, and treatment of STDs as clinics slashed services and labs became backed up by COVID-19 tests.
And health officials in both Canada and the U.S. point out that making matters worse is the fact that many patients may have multiple conditions and co-infections, such as HIV, Hepatitis C, or drug addiction. But suffice to say that personal sexual health, along with many other things has been put on the back burner with the arrival of COVID-19.
KJ Mullins
And this is all the more reason to remind people of the importance of taking care of their sexual health. "They're seeing numbers growing at a rate that is alarming," Frédérique Chabot, the director of health promotion for Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights, said in an interview, reports Politico. "People's needs in terms of sexual and reproductive health are not diminishing during this emergency. In fact, it's becoming greater."
A report last week by Statistics Canada said sales of “family planning products” such as condoms, contraceptives, and lubricants soared by 30 percent in the second week of March and by 41 percent in the third week, compared to the same periods last year— right as Canadians were asked to stay home.
Now that stay-at-home rules are being relaxed, it is time that people get back to making those visits to their health care professionals. It is going to be difficult for a while longer for young people who may have accessed services and products at their now-shuttered schools.
Nicole Pasquino, a clinical practice director at Options for Sexual Health, an organization in British Columbia that offers free condoms and birth control pills for about a quarter the usual price, says, from what she's seen, providers are all in "kind of troubleshoot mode."
More about Covid19, Sexually transmitted diseases, Canada outbreaks, condom shortage, chlamydia and HIV infections
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