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Steadily spreading STIs in Manitoba cause for concern

Medical testing increasing along with infections
Photo Credit: www.sxc.hu

Thanks to consistently increasing numbers, Manitoba has one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the country, according to provincial monitoring.
STI statistics have taken a dramatic jump from January to October 2008 according to the latest statistics from the Communicable Disease Control Branch of Manitoba Health. In that timeframe, 5,879 cases of chlamydia were reported which is an increase of around 1,400 cases from the same period in 2007. The infection that can be contracted by both men and women often shows no symptoms, can severely damage female reproductive organs and be passed to an infant during birth. Similarly, HIV infections increased in the province from 67 to 80 within the reporting period. Health officials recommend condom usage, talking to your partners and regular check-ups and testing as preventative measures to avoid contracting an STI. The steady rise in infections is being taken seriously by community organizations, like Nine Circles Community Health Centre. The non-profit organization has developed informational and testing programs to combat what is being referred to as a potential impending epidemic. On April 1, the front-line clinic will begin working with other community-run organizations to offer free-of-charge testing for STIs to those most susceptible including youth, aboriginal women and the gay and lesbian population. These new programs, along with free and confidential testing like those already offered at the 705 Broadway clinic, are critical components to combating STIs, according to Jocelyn Kingshott, a public health nurse with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA). “It’s giving everyone an opportunity and testing will increase the finding of cases,” Kingshott said. In her position, she often does presentations about sexual health and STIs for people in high-risk age categories, like youth in their later teen years to early 20s. Kingshott prefers speaking to groups, to help as many individuals as possible. “The more groups, the more people you reach at a time,” she said. While Kingshott, who has been practicing for seven years, works to educate about prevention, symptoms, treatment, effects and sexual health in general, she isn’t certain if there is a way to determine why Manitoba has a higher rate of infections than others. Among the contributing factors to the high numbers, she acknowledges a younger and growing population along with a switch to less invasive and readily available testing process, now done by urine sample. “Are there more infections or are we just testing more?” she said. “The more you test, the higher rates of positive you’ll find.”

Comments

Julian Moffatt of Visual Lizard » Feb 4th 2009, 15:35

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Interesting data. Do you have any numbers on how many tests were run in 2007 vs 2008? Those numbers would give us a better of view of whether these diseases are actually on the rise.

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