Words: Dray Morgan
HSE arm, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPSC), have stated that there has been a worrying rise in the number of cases of various sexually transmitted infections throughout the country since the end of the pandemic. With a spokesperson for the Mid West stating there’s been an unprecedented rise in the region.
A spokesperson for Public Health Mid West has encouraged people to use contraception saying they were “concerned” after recording “record levels of chlamydia and gonorrhoea” in Clare, Limerick and north Tipperary. In 2022, 798 cases of chlamydia and 188 of gonorrhoea were recorded by Public Health HSE Mid-West, which was the highest recorded in the past 10 years. So far this year, there’s already been 664 cases of chlamydia and 274 cases of gonorrhoea.
It comes after the HSE released figures in 2023 highlighting record high levels of sexually transmitted infections across Ireland in 2022 compared to 2019. Showcased in the findings is a 45 per cent spike in gonorrhoea and 20 per cent increase in cases of chlamydia from 2019 to 2022.
A spokesperson said, “We are encouraging the public to use condoms and protect your sexual health and avail of free STI home testing at SH24.ie.”
“We are experiencing unprecedented levels of chlamydia and gonorrhoea this year. If current trends persist, record levels of chlamydia are likely to be recorded by the end of the year,” he said.
The group most impacted by this spike has been young people aged 20-24. It was reported in April 2023, that cases of gonorrhoea in young women have risen by 75 per cent from 2019 to 2022, whereas men also see a rise in gonorrhoea cases by 56 per cent. In females aged 20–24 years STIs increased by 34 per cent. The STI rate for males aged 20-24 years increased by 17 per cent.
Furthermore, initial statistics from 2023 indicate that the trend does not appear to be slowing down. The HSPSC have said that they are not completely certain of the reasoning as to why young people are contracting more sexually transmitted diseases.
In recent years, the HSE have pushed an initiative to increase STI testing with their at-home STI testing kits. This progressive expansion took place throughout the country over 2021 and 2022. In 2022, nearly 57,000 tests were completed, with 4,121 cases of chlamydia and 933 cases of gonorrhoea detected. It is estimated that this would account for approximately 38 per cent and 23 per cent of notifications for these diseases.
This trend also isn’t unique to Ireland, the same pattern can be observed throughout most of the developed world. Countries like Norway and the UK have been urged by their respective governments to practice safe sex.
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