General News

STI’s are on the rise in Simcoe Muskoka

August 31, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

There has been a steady increase in sexually transmitted infections (STI) in Simcoe County over the past five years.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis especially are seeing a rise in transmission rates. These infections can easily be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse and oral sex.

Many individuals with an STI do not know that they have it, as many of these infections have no symptoms at all, and yet they can still give it to their sex partner. This is why getting tested and treated for STIs is essential to prevent passing it on to others, which could result in potentially serious consequences such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

STIs have been on the rise in Canada and within Simcoe Muskoka for more than 20 years. The most common STIs are chlamydia and gonorrhea, which are both bacterial infections that can be treated easily with antibiotics.

Between 2000 and 2022, chlamydia cases have increased four-fold, rising from 363 cases reported in 2000 to 1,117 cases reported in 2022. The highest infection rate is among 15 to 24-year-olds, with more cases occurring among females than males.

Since 2017, cases of gonorrhea have almost tripled, with 279 cases reported in 2022, compared to 101 cases reported in 2017. The highest rate is among 25 to 29-year-olds, with a higher proportion of cases occurring among males compared to females.

There has been a nine-fold increase in syphilis since 2017. At that time, nine cases were reported. There were 87 cases reported in 2022. Rates are highest among 25 to 39-year-olds and 15 to 24-year-olds.

In the past six years, between three and 15 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been reported annually in Simcoe Muskoka. In 2022, 13 new cases of HIV were reported to the health unit. More cases occurred in males than females.

STI testing is available through your healthcare provider’s office, walk-in clinics, community health centres, certain community agencies and sexual health clinics at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. STI testing is free for those with an Ontario Health Card.

Some people may be hesitant to access STI testing due to concerns about confidentiality, feelings of shame or a fear of being seen accessing sexual health services or treatment in the community and being talked about.

It is important to seek medical attention if you are having symptoms of an STI, which could include abnormal vaginal or penis discharge, discomfort during urination, pelvic pain, irregular bleeding in between periods, or a rash or sores in the genital area.

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