STI num­bers ‘keep go­ing up’ in Al­berta

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - KEITH GEREIN

ed­mon­Ton — al­berta has recorded six cases of lifethreat­en­ing con­gen­i­tal syphilis in new­born ba­bies this year, public health lead­ers an­nounced Tues­day amid a wors­en­ing out­break of sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions around the province.

“If un­treated, this in­fec­tion can cause de­formed bones, jaun­dice, brain and nerve dam­age, menin­gi­tis and other se­ri­ous health prob­lems in the child,” said dr. deena Hin­shaw, deputy chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health for al­berta Health.

“ob­vi­ously, we are very con­cerned about these cases, as well as the on­go­ing high rates of sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions.”

al­berta recorded 369 syphilis cases as of Hal­loween this year, putting the province on course to sur­pass last year’s to­tal of 410. Gon­or­rhea rates have also sky­rock­eted to lev­els not seen since the late 1980s. a to­tal of 3,869 in­fec­tions had been recorded by the end of oc­to­ber this year, al­ready higher than last year’s tally of 3,707.

When the out­break was first an­nounced, public health of­fi­cials ini­tially linked it to the emer­gence of so­cial me­dia sites used for anony­mous sex­ual hook-ups. They vowed to use ad­ver­tise­ments on those same so­cial me­dia ser­vices to raise aware­ness. aHs said Tues­day the cam­paign met with some suc­cess, driv­ing traffic to the sexgerms.com web­site and prompt­ing more peo­ple to get tested. That, in turn, pro­duced more pos­i­tives and pushed up the in­fec­tion rates. How­ever, progress from that cam­paign even­tu­ally stalled. “The num­bers keep go­ing up so we have to try to do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” said dr. Gerry Predy, se­nior med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health for aHs.

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