June 19th, 2024

Stay informed about sexual and reproductive health: AHS

By KENDALL KING on February 18, 2023.

kking@medicinehatnews.com

Alberta Health Services is encouraging Albertans to remain informed about sexual and reproductive health as data shows sexually transmitted infections are on the rise across the province.

The province’s most recent STI and HIV report was made public last July, but its findings were recirculated earlier this week in recognition of Canada’s annual Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week, which runs Feb. 13-17.

The report, which contains data from the 2021 calendar year, shows that between 2020 and 2021, Alberta’s total number of Gonorrhea cases increased by 2.4 per cent, HIV cases by 25.4 per cent and infectious syphilis cases by 27.6 per cent; while Chlamydia cases decreased by 0.3 per cent.

Alberta experienced an overall increase of 3.8 per cent, with the total number of reported STI/HIV cases jumping from 21,702 in 2020 to 22,531 in 2021.

Similar numbers were reported in the South zone with data showing the zone’s total number of Gonorrhea cases increased by 10.5 per cent, HIV cases by 18.8 per cent and infectious syphilis cases by 158.3 per cent; while Chlamydia cases decreased by 1.4 per cent.

The zone experienced an overall case increase of 6.3 per cent as cases rose from 1,122 in 2020 to 1,193 in 2021.

Both the province and the South zone also experienced increases in congenital syphilis.

While the report includes a multitude of statistics regarding case counts and demographics breakdowns, it provides no concrete explanation for the increases. However the report cites changes in surveillance and data collection, medical advancements, social values and migration patterns as potential data influencers.

“It’s difficult to point to a single reason (for increases) as often there are multiple factors that go into generating these types of reports,” Dr. Kristin Pon, South zone senior public health resident, told the News. “But, really, the message for the public is that STIs are on the rise across the province.

“And so, it’s important for people to be informed about sexual health and engage in safe sexual practices, which includes using protection and regular STI testing in order to prevent health complications that can result after STIs.”

For those looking to increase personal awareness of sexual and reproductive health, Pon recommends free online resources found as ahs.ca/srh, as well as those available at teachingsexualhealth.ca or sexandu.ca.

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