A recent CBC news article brought to our attention an alarming rise of sexually transmitted diseases in Canada. The data from World Health Organisation indicates over one million new cases of STD infections on a daily basis worldwide.

Indulging in an act of vaginal sex, oral sex and anal sex can spread these diseases if one’s partner is infected and indulges in un-protected sex.

Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea across Canada have mushroomed, according to the latest figures compiled by CBC News, which comes amid a new surge in syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, herpes and many more diseases that are often sexually transmitted.

The figures show there were more than 126,700 chlamydia infections and 28,300 cases of gonorrhea diagnosed in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. The federal government also recently announced more than $32 million in funding for research into STIs and bloodborne infections, writing that “rates of sexually transmitted infections in Canada have increased over the last decade — chlamydia increased by 49%, gonorrhea by 81%, and syphilis by an alarming 178%.”

Efforts to contain the spread of STIs, such as interventions aimed at reducing risky sexual behaviour, haven’t been sufficient as behavioural change is a complex challenge, particularly for marginalised populations.

Complicating things is the fact that patients may have multiple conditions and coinfections. It may not merely be dealing with syphilis. It could be dealing with multiple infections such as HIV, hepatitis C, drug addiction or dealing with other mental health issues, making the process of being cured and recovered extremely complex.

It is hence advised that one should take appropriate care of one’s health. Open communication is important along with safe sex. Avoiding multiple sex partners, seeking prompt medical help and also getting over the stigma and rising above social, religious and cultural taboos can be a part of educating oneself about the STDs.

While most STIs can be cured today, one thing that is on the public health radar is antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. The concern is that we may be running out of antibiotics in the next few years, potentially, as resistance increases. Other factors that may be contributing to increasing rates include the decrease in the usage of external contraceptives, rise of on-line dating apps, lags in sexual health education, drug addiction and mental health concerns etc.

Testing and treatment remain important, in large part because of the long-term consequences of STIs. And STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia are major causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility, according to WHO.

Scarring of fallopian tubes harming fertility of those aged 15 to 29, is a potential consequence of repeated chlamydia infections that go untreated. Congenital syphilis, an STI passed to the baby in utero, can cause a number of deformities, as well as cognitive impairment.

The golden rule is to prevent from STDs is to be cautious and act responsibly and if one develops it then early treatment should be sought for recovering the earliest.

Dr. Pargat Singh Bhurji
MD,FRCP ( C ) Consultant Pediatrician Surrery BC